This is a great deal!
Sep 19, 2003 (Updated Sep 20, 2003)
Restaurant.com is a website where you can buy $25.00 Gift Certificates for $12.50 (plus a $1.00 handling fee). This company also lists their gift certificates on Ebay. I have purchased $25.00 gift certificates for $1.00 (plus the handling fee equals a total of $2.00) on Ebay. Some of the gift certificates are not for a specific amount - instead, they are good for 50% off the entire food portion of the bill.
The website is straightforward and easy to use. The selection of restaurants for my area is not comprehensive, however the ones that are available are all very good restaurants. There are some general restaurant.com restrictions, and some restaurants put in their own specific restrictions. I always check for restrictions before purchasing or bidding.
Purchasing a Gift Certificate
Starting at their home page, you choose a state or area. The bigger states are divided into geographic areas. Next, you choose a specific city or town, a specific cuisine, or the first letter of the name a restaurant. The site will return a list of available restaurants matching your criteria.
For each restaurant, there is a short description, a sample menu, a link to the restaurants website (if they have one), and the price of an average entrée. There is also a list of general and specific restrictions. The general restrictions include (but are not limited to):
1. One redemption per customer per month per restaurant
2. One gift certificate per party
3. No cash back upon redemption
4. Valid for parties of 2 or more unless otherwise stated
5. All gift certificates expire after one year
6. Gift certificates cannot be used for alcoholic beverages
There are more, but none that I find to be a problem. It is best to read them all before purchasing.
Examples of restaurant specific restrictions that I have seen are valid only for parties of 4 or more, valid only for dinner, and not valid on weekends. These restrictions are highlighted in red so they are hard to miss. None of the gift certificates that I have purchased have had any restaurant specific restrictions.
Once you have chosen a restaurant and checked the restrictions, you can purchase a $25.00 gift certificate for $12.50 (plus the $1.00 handling fee), print it out on your printer, and go out to the restaurant. However, if you plan ahead, you could save yourself more on Ebay.
All of the restaurant.com gift certificates that I have purchased were on Ebay. Go to Ebay, search on the restaurants name, and hopefully it will be there. (Not all of the gift certificates available through restaurant.com are auctioned on Ebay). I have never paid more than $5.00 for a $25.00 gift certificate. On Ebay, I have gotten them for as little as $1.00 (well, $2.00 including handling). Once you have paid for the auction, they immediately send you an email link to your gift certificate. Print it out and go.
I think it is interesting to note that restaurant.com has been selling these gift certificates on Ebay since 3/01. They have a 98.6% positive rating. That is based on a total of 427,417 feedbacks; 77,654 are from unique users (data as of 9/20/03). From these numbers, I infer that this company has many satisfied repeat customers.
The restaurant.com website offers to keep track of gift certificates you have purchased if you register with them. This feature gives you a list of all the certificates you have purchased. This could be a useful if they flagged the certificates that have been used, but they dont. As it is, I dont find this particularly useful.
Using the Gift Certificate
Using the Gift Certificate couldnt be simpler. When the check comes, we put the certificate in the folio with our credit card. When the credit card slip comes back to us for signature, $25.00 has been deducted from the food portion of the bill!
We have given these to friends, and no one has had a problem redeeming their gift certificates.
Some specific restaurants add a restriction that the certificate must be presented prior to ordering. All applicable restrictions are stated on the website (so you will know them prior to making a purchase). They are also clearly written on the gift certificate.