I use OpenTable every week even though I hate a service. The app is buggy, the website is impossible to navigate, and merchants complain about them all the time.
But I have no choice. OpenTable is pretty much the only place I can go to make restaurant reservations online. They have a monopoly. Unfortunately that means they haven’t done anything to improve the product in a while. I see a lot of opportunity. Here’s a quick list of what I would build:
- Let me confirm reservations within Opentable. Send me a push notification or an email. I hate getting phone calls.
- The restaurant’s reservation terminal should show photos of people who have reservations that are coming up. That way the host can greet me by name. This sounds small but it’s a great feeling when it happens.
- When I go to a restaurant I visit a lot, make sure they know that I’m a regular. I would LOVE it if I went into Absinthe and even a new host would know, “he comes in every week”
- Use my history and ratings to give me recommendations. Maybe Opentable does this but I don’t see them. Restaurants could pay to be promoted as recommendations.
- Email me on Tuesdays when recommendations for when I should eat that weekend. Show me restaurants with availability and a one click link to book them.
- Exclude restaurants from search results. Never show them to me again.
- Sync with Foursquare. Check me in automatically. Use Foursquare data to recommend places to go.
- Sync with my calendar. Put reservations on my Google calendar for me. Let me invite other people as well and use it as an RSVP system. If I remove the event from my calendar, cancel the reservation.
- Send me an Uber at the right time before a restaurant reservation.
- When a cancellation occurs for a hard to get reservation, don’t put that reservation back in the pool. Instead, hold it for your top users. Send me a push notification when something good opens up so I can grab it.
What features do you want Opentable to add?
Update, ideas from you:
A couple days ago I wrote that you can stop worrying about credit card fraud; if your credit card number is compromised, you aren’t liable for any charges. But there’s a caveat: this does not apply to debit cards.
Debit cards are the worst financial device in the market today. Debit cards can be used without a pin number, and pull money directly and instantly out of your checking account. If your card number is lost or stolen, actual dollars will drain from your account.
This FTC website clearly shows your maximum liability in case of theft or fraud. For a credit card, it’s $50 (though most good banks will cover that as well). For debit cards, it’s potentially a lot more. The liability depends on when you determine that there is fraud and report it to your bank. In the extreme case, debit card fraud could drain your entire account! To be totally protected, you have to check your statement every 2 days. That’s totally unreasonable.
The scariest thing about debit cards isn’t the amount of money you will lose, but the disruption it might have on your life.
If your credit card is used fraudulently, you will see this on your statement before you pay, and the charge will be removed while it’s being investigated. With a debit card, the money will have already been taken out of your checking account. You must prove your innocence to get your money back. This could take weeks, and in the meantime your rent check could bounce, your utility payments that debit from your checking account might fail, your credit might be affected.
Why would you put yourself through that? The fraudulent charge might be small, but the pain and suffering cost you much more.
Credit cards are a safer option. This is all without mentioning the other benefits of credit cards: they are free, help you build credit, give you rewards points, and offer benefits like extra warranties, travel perks, and more.
Here’s my recommendation:
1. Get an ATM card that isn’t a debit card
You can still get an ATM card that isn’t a debit card. It won’t have a Visa logo on it, and you can’t use it without a pin number. This lets you get cash from a machine, without putting your money at risk.
2. Get a credit card from a good bank that has customer service in the United States
I recommend American Express, Capital One, and Chase, but there are plenty of others.
Your bank will tell you that you’re protected if you use their debit card, but they want your business. The details matter. Search on Google and you’ll find plenty of debit card horror stories. Here’s a good article summarizing the risks.
Credit card safety and security has been top of mind for many people the past few weeks because of two announcements:
- In November, the startup Coin announced a thin digital device that promises to consolidate all your credit cards into a single swipeable device. I excitedly pre-ordered one.
- Last month Target announced that up to 40 million credit card numbers were stolen by hackers.
There’s been much written about these events, including a lot of misinformation and fear mongering. The press is trying to scare consumers into thinking they are at risk if something goes wrong. Even the New York Times is spreading false fear:
When you buy it, you are agreeing to terms of service that give you no protection. Should something go wrong…it’s not Coin’s problem.
Lets get the facts straight:
- Your credit card number is not a secret. You hand over your credit card to merchants every day, who often take the card out of your sight. There’s plenty of opportunity for someone to steal your credit card number. Get over it.
- Under federal law, you aren’t liable for a single dime if there are fraudulent charges on your credit card. Liability falls on the issuer of the card; it’s built into their models. Let them worry about fraud, they are the experts.
- You don’t need to replace your card after the Target leak. Someone smart already did the math and decided that the cost of replacing 40 million credit cards is more than the cost of their potential liability. That’s why you didn’t get a new card in the mail.
There are powerful computers constantly looking for irregular behavior and fraud every time a credit card is used. Banks do this because they lose money when fraud happens.
Credit card companies have tried introducing “safety” features like putting your photo on the card, or creating one time use numbers for online purchases. There’s even a startup claiming they will “make credit card fraud a think of the past”. Ultimately these features help the banks reduce their risks and their costs. They don’t affect consumers.
My advice: Always check your card statement before paying. Most bad charges aren’t from fraud, but from merchants that make mistakes. Go through your statement line by line before you pay it. It’s worth it.
Other than that, stop worrying about it. You’re safe.
Update: This applies to *credit cards* but *not debit cards*. There is increased liability when using a debit card. I’ll write a post tomorrow to outline this.