It is a practice that is becoming more and more common. Restaurants sometimes ask their customers who want to book a table to provide their credit card details online or by phone. This system allows restaurateurs to secure reservations and avoid ending up with empty tables, if customers cancel without warning.
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But is it legal? Our legal specialist Roland Perez responds in the affirmative. "It is not illegal to propose it.Fess to give the numbers of his credit card, the restaurant is entitled to refuse to reserve a table," he warns. "We are seeing more and more restaurants online offer to fill a booking form where we will include the information of his credit card: the number, the date of expiration and the famous cryptogram".
If in France, this practice is spreading gradually, it is widely spread in the United States. The goal is to counter the "no show", that is to say the unfulfilled reservations in restaurants. The situation is, moreover, problematic for restaurants that contain very few tables and when the reservation concerns tables of more than two people.
The agreement of the customer necessary for any sampling
"No sum is, in general, taken in advance", however reassures Roland Perez. If this is the case, "it must be legally qualified: is it a deposit, a guaranteed amount or a penalty? Nothing is said in the Consumer Code that has not yet framed this practice, "he says.
A withdrawal on the credit card can be possible under one condition: "that the customer is very clearly informed of the cancellation conditions and that he has accepted," says Roland Perez. For example, "knowing in advance the exact amount that will be debited and especially the date and time limit where the customer can still cancel his reservation without charge." If the customer has not agreed, then the bank can refund the sums that have been fraudulently taken.
For those who remain suspicious, Roland Perez ensures that "the National Commission of computing and freedoms (Cnil) ensures that restaurateurs do not keep the data collected during table reservations". On the other hand, if the reservation took place by telephone, the conversation can be recorded and then serve as evidence in case of dispute.