The Most Common Lie People Tell To Cancel A Dinner Reservation

According to a recent survey conducted by SevenRooms, over 70% of people use a family emergency as an excuse to cancel a dinner reservation.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

dinner reservation

We all have good intentions when we make that dinner reservation for three weeks from now. Spending Saturday night at a swanky restaurant is always fun – in theory. But then the evening rolls around, and you’re still in sweats; the good news is that you’re not alone. 

Many Americans get closer to their much-anticipated dinner reservation only to have something come up. Or, in many cases, they decided they just don’t want to go after all. That’s not the end of the world since there is always next week or the week after.

But the kicker is that many restaurants have a cancellation fee policy. Doing so helps protect the restaurant and the staff from empty tables on a busy night. However, many people are not keen on paying a fee for something they didn’t do.

So that leads to grown-up size fibbing in an attempt to wiggle out from under the fee. The problem is that most people use the same old excuse. And now the restaurants can see right through you.

SevenRooms, a tech platform designed for restaurants, recently conducted a survey in conjunction with YouGov. The goal was to understand diner behavior better. But the news of what they found may shock you a bit. 

According to Food&Wine, “A whopping 71% of Americans would never pay to cancel a reservation at a restaurant.” Even worse, “Instead, they’d choose to give the reservation away, beg for a refund, or just straight-up lie. And usually, that lie is about a phantom family emergency.”

Based on survey results, 21% of diners blame the cancellation on a family emergency. And 20% of respondents make up medical situations. However, if you use those excuses too often, they may come back to hurt you.

If you use online reservation booking systems to plan your night out, they track any and all cancellations. And if you rack up too many, your account gets banned. Now, that would certainly be bad news. 

But not all respondents fessed up to lying in order to get out of a dinner reservation. Roughly 55% of diners said they would rather gift the reservation to a family member or friend. And 38% said they would be ok with a small cancellation fee. 

Hopefully, restaurants will use that data to adjust their cancellation policies. After all, most people intend to keep their dinner reservation when they make it. But life happens. 

However, in the meantime, there are some things you can do to make life easier for your favorite restaurant staff. Understand that they have likely seen it all. And that means they probably don’t buy your excuse.

So just be honest with them when something comes up…even if that something is you, a blanket, a pint of ice cream, and Netflix. We’ve all been there. It is completely understandable. 

The CMO of SevenRooms, Josh Todd, offered advice and good news for diners. Todd said, “…be honest, and they’ll usually understand and be able to accommodate you in some way.” And that feels much better than trying to think of another lie.