Service of Cancellation Fees

March 18th, 2024

Categories: Cancellation Fees, Fees, Restaurant

The New York Times ran a recent article by T.M. Brown, “When Canceling Your Reservation Costs as Much as Dinner.”

I’d addressed one restaurant reservation reminder run amok in “Service of Follow Ups and Reminders.” I’d received daily notices a few days prior—as though I was scheduled for brain surgery–and then “You have half an hour to arrive at XYZ.” I was so turned off. I didn’t appreciate the pressure and arrived in a grumpy mood.

I guess these irritating reminders aren’t enough. The subhead of Brown’s article was: “Fed up with no-shows and last-minute cancellations, restaurants are increasingly charging fees as high as $100 a head. And some diners are pushing back.”

According to the reporter, one man cancelled his reservation 23½ hours before his wife’s birthday dinner because their son was in the emergency room. He protested the $200 fee they charged his credit card.

Brown wrote that according to one reservation service, cancellations jumped from at least one in 4 percent of participating restaurants in January 2019 to 13 percent in 2023 and this year, 17 percent. Another reported “that 28 percent of Americans surveyed admitted to not showing up for a reservation in the last year.”

Fees range from $10 to $50+ per person wrote Brown. Some managers charge “on a case-by-case basis.”

Does it make you want to avoid restaurants like this? Have you forgotten to cancel a restaurant reservation, or, for that matter, a doctor or hairstylist appointment? Were you charged a fee?

9 Responses to “Service of Cancellation Fees”

  1. ASK Said:

    I wouldn’t stop patronizing a restaurant even if it did charge a cancellation fee because I always call to cancel if necessary. On occasion I’ve had whoever took my call thank me profusely for doing so, much to my surprise. Common courtesy has apparently “left the building” for a lot of people…

  2. Deb Wright Said:

    No, I don’t avoid restaurants that charge a fee if they have that 24 hour notice. They have to make payroll and make a living also. Going out for a meal is hard to forget if you made a reservation. Extenuating circumstances, of course, are understandable; sudden illness, accidents, etc. So far, my record is pretty good. I got a reminder call about an upcoming hearing aid appointment, and realized that I had written down the wrong date. Since it seems all services that are scheduled like hair stylists, dentists, and doctor appointments, call or send reminder texts, we don’t have much excuse for just not feeling like going.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I suspect the biggest no-shows are overly booked people on expense accounts.

    The local hash house or deli usually doesn’t take reservations for one thing.

    Also, some make multiple reservations so that a client can pick the one they want, and the vendor or his/her assitant is too busy–or arrogant–to let the other restaurants know.

    The tony restaurants or the reservation services are diligent at reminding the booker so the excuse of “I forgot” doesn’t hold water most of the time. However, if a restaurant is smart and wants to see a customer again and the person had a true emergency, forgiving the no-show would be the best strategy.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Both courtesy and empathy and the tiniest awareness about a business’s survival would make cancelling a reservation second nature. My impression: In some circles a lack of concern is a sign of power. We all know obnoxious people like this.

  5. BC Said:

    Has not happened to us in Florida.

  6. EAM Said:

    EAM on Twitter: My friend was charged $300 for not showing-up to her highlights hair appt.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A restaurant can often fill a table of a no-show. The hairstylist is left without income. Who drops in for such a procedure?

    Wonder why the friend didn’t cancel.

  8. Martha Tepper Takayama Said:

    No one should deliberately be thoughtless or inconsiderate, but I am tiered of dining out becoming an ordeal! I am not that sympathetic to restaurant proprietor’s blues either because they insist on operating with wages based on tipping and often even take percentages of the tips! Not exactly considerate of their workers. In any case I think that the elaborate pretense now attached to going to many restaurants is simply absurd. Going out to eat should b to satisfy your desire for food, to have a pleasant experience or celebrate. It should not require making commitments that require reading fine print or getting legal advice. Restaurant owners had best remember that they have chosen to run service-based businesses.
    I do think it is unkind and selfish to cancel hairdressers or doctors at the last minute
    unless absolutely necessary.

  9. Lucrezia Said:

    Cancellations are a part of doing business. Many, in all probability, can’t be helped. I will make every effort to honor a commitment but expect understanding in the event of an emergency. Should anyone be victimized by such a stunt, the threat of a visit to the Small Claims Court and ensuing bad publicity, or a phone call to the Daily News, should bring matters to a satisfactory close.

Leave a Reply