First, the good news: Mark Peel's The Point is still open and serving Culver City following that GroupOn-sponsored debacle where the site allegedly offered discounts that were never approved by the owners, damaging the restaurant's bottom line and threatening to shutter it for good. The bad news is these dining deal sites just might be doing a little too much thinking for themselves and could be getting out of control. What's the latest?
According to the owners of Tart, the cute restaurant within The Farmer's Daughter Hotel, a site called Restaurant.com has been selling discount coupons to dine here, despite never having an agreement or approval from Tart itself. Lawyers have been called after the restaurant spent considerable time and energy trying to get the coupons removed, while the owners are strongly urging people to not purchase any coupons from the site to dine at Tart., despite initially honoring them out of guilt.
In messages left this weekend on the restaurant's Facebook page, Tart's owner lays it out:
Tart Restaurant TART RESTAURANT DOES NOT DO BUSINESS with RESTAURANT.COM. We are sorry for any inconvenience this might cause our guest that are purchasing Coupons from them for TART. Our Attorney is on the case. In the mean time DO NOT PURCHASE COUPONS for TART from THEM...To all of our Guest. I understand your fustration completely. This has been going for sometime with us and them. In the mean time to keep our guests sheltered we just accepted them. However it has gotten to the point where they just REFUSE to take us off thier site. We have involved a legal team at this point to deal with this, I am hoping this comes to an end very soon.
Indeed, we see the site still has Tart listed, offering $25 coupons for just $15. Who knows how many other restaurants are falling victim to a site that features hundreds of L.A.-area eateries? Furthermore, there are over 400 complaints filed against the Illinois-based site on the Better Business Bureau's website. Of course, there are many great new sites helping us eat at a discount legitimately, but the huge success of such sites and the very scary nature of the internet itself is liable to breed some scammers. You've been warned.