Better Business Bureau issues warning about Arlington Heights-based Restaurant.com
The Better Business Bureau issued a warning Wednesday regarding Restaurant.com, an Arlington Heights-based company that sells gift certificates to restaurants nationwide, saying it had numerous complaints that did not lead to the company changing its business practices.
The company president denied the allegations.
The BBB said it has received 253 complaints over the last three years. Those consumers said they were unable to redeem gift certificates sold on the website. Some said the restaurants were no longer in business or the gift certificates could not be used by the redemption date.
The BBB noted that the investigation refers to Restaurant.com and should not be confused with the similar sounding Restaurants.com, since the two are not affiliated.
Restaurant.com President Aaron Horowitz said he was "surprised and confused" when he heard about the BBB's alert about his company and said the allegations were not true. He said the company has worked with the consumers who filed complaints to resolve the matters.
"We have provided responses to them in 2014 and in 2015 and resolved the complaints that were on file," Horowitz said. "We don't know what else they're referring to."
Restaurant owners learned of unauthorized Restaurant.com listings and certificates when diners attempted to redeem the certificates. It caused some restaurants to either forfeit the value on the certificates or find an alternate agreement with the customer, the BBB said.
"In our internal investigation of 20 restaurants in the Chicagoland area, we found 13 who are participating with Restaurant.com and six that claim they were not aware they were listed and do not accept coupons from the business," BBB President and CEO Steve J. Bernas said in a statement. The remaining restaurant is no longer in business, but still on the company's website, he said.
Horowitz said the company has been in business since 1999 and the number of complaints is a small fraction of the overall number of certificates it has sold. He said the company has issued about 8 million certificates and saved consumers about $142 million in the last three years.