Start-up ReservationHop — the latest entrant in the pay-to-play reservation wars — has already drummed up a lot of controversy. According to the Daily Dot, this is because the San Francisco-based company is "essentially a restaurant scalping service." ReservationHop makes reservations at popular restaurants in advance under false names and then sells them for a fee. Prices start at $5 but appear to go as high as $12. Customers must buy the reservation at least four hours ahead of the meal and then the company will give "you a name to use to when you arrive at the restaurant."
According to ReservationHop's website, people with reservations they cannot use can sell them to the start-up. The site, which launched over the weekend, has faced quite a bit of backlash. Daily Dot notes that the biggest problem with the site is that it puts a "price tag on something that was already free to begin with," plus restaurants are put at risk if the service buys up reservations and are unable to sell them. ReservationHop's website claims that if a reservation is not sold, it calls the restaurant to cancel in order to "prevent no-shows." Regardless, many people believe the service is unethical:
The newest way to be an utter jerk in San Francisco: https://t.co/pCceTvj2i9 "Let's disrupt all basic social niceties and monetize them!"— Morgan Johnson (@Poormojo) July 3, 2014
Restaurants make staffing calls far ahead of reservation time. Even if you cancel a Reservation Hop, it could bankrupt restaurant over time.— Margarita just (@margafret) July 4, 2014
i wonder if startups will eventually start squatting in emergency rooms and let people pay to get to the front of the line.— Selena Larson (@selenalarson) July 3, 2014
This is irresponsible and sleazy and exactly what people hate about startups sucking the life out of San Francisco https://t.co/pqz572FWA9— mat honan (@mat) July 3, 2014
Brian Mayer, the site's founder writes on his blog that he is surprised by the backlash and believes that his service is beneficial: "A paid reservation lets customers get skin in the game" and paid reservations "might even reduce no-shows." A growing number of companies are offering similar services, including Resy, Zurvu, Killer Resy, and Table8; they all charge for restaurant reservations. ReservationHop is currently only available in San Francisco.
· Everyone's Mad About This Reservation-Scalping App [Daily Dot]
· Reservation Hop [Official Site]
· How I Became the Most Hated Person in San Francisco [Brian Mayer]
· All Reservations Coverage on Eater [-E-]