Thursday, February 22, 2007

St. Valentine's Day Massacre at Oya

While Bobby and I were receiving the royal treatment by Chef Ziebold et al. over at CityZen, good friends of ours opted for a girls' night out at Oya, a trendy little place located in oh-so-trendy (albeit in the yuppiest of yuppy ways) Gallery Place / Chinatown / Penn Quarter (seriously -- someone needs to make a once-and-for-all determination on that neighborhood's name). Anyway, Oya was offering a six-course, prix fixe meal for $125 (notably only $10 cheaper than CityZen, ahem).

My friends went, imbibed, enjoyed, and had a pretty nice evening, by all accounts. Overall, they were quite pleased with the evening. Until about a week later, that is.

When my friend, let's call her Ina, made the reservation via Open Table, it prompted her for a credit card, which Ina dutifully supplied. She assumed it would be charged in the event her party failed to cancel the reservation in a timely manner, which a lot of restaurants do on special occassions, so no big deal, right? Not so much. Turns out, Oya had decided to charge a deposit for its tables on Valentine's Day. The only warning of this that Ina received was on the confirmation email from Open Table, which stated: "OpenTable will never charge the card for any reason. There will be no charges by Oya Restaurant & Lounge except in cases of a no-show, late cancellation, or required deposit per the restaurant's policy." Yeah, talk about your fine print.

About a week after the meal, Ina was perusing her online checking account statement and noticed two charges for Oya -- one for the meal and an additional $300 charge for the deposit. Ina called Oya to inquire about the additional charge and was told that the charge should have been deducted by the waiter or waitress from the cost of the meal. Ina informed the manager that she hadn't been aware of the deposit policy. The manager then replied that they were looking into the issue and would "try" to remedy it later that afternoon. He also assured Ina that it wasn't really that big of a deal, since eventually the restaurant would have noticed the error.

It's now two days later, and over a week since the meal, and Ina still hasn't been credited her $300.

This situation has so many things wrong with it, I don't know where to begin. First of all, the problem should have never occurred in the first place. If you're going to charge a deposit, the entire policy should be explained much more clearly, and employees must to take extra care to make sure it is taken off the bill. Second, when a problem does arise, it needs to be handled immediately. $300 is a lot of money, and a lot of people probably don't have that much of a cushion in their accounts. Ina's lucky that she does, because she's certainly not getting a lot of help from the restaurant. Additionally, according to Ina, Oya was completely cavalier about the whole thing, making it additionally stressful because she spent a lot of time worrying if they were really going to take care of it, or if she'd need to take other action. Not only should management have credited her back the charge the same day, but they should have offered to comp her something (come in for a round of drinks, perhaps) for her troubles.

Shame on you, Oya. Shame on YOU.

Update: Ina received the credit back to her debit card on 2/23. Which means that it took three days from the time she pointed out the error, ten days from the time of the incorrect charge, numerous phone calls (most unreturned, despite promises otherwise), and one big headache.

777 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Website (which, btw, is one of those awful ones that makes you watch some lame slide show before entering the actual site. YAWN).


Anonymous said...

Tell Ina thank you for her concerns. I'm sure the staff a OYa is sorry for an inconvience that this has caused her. I personally agree that there is no excuse how the entire transaction was handle. On a second note (being in the the biz, and frequenting OYA) refunded transactions tend to take longer to post than regular transactions. It can take 3 and up to 7 days to post depending on the the individuals bank. Thank god Ina had a cushion!!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the other poster. Things happen and while there is no excuse for this situation, it does take at least a week before money is posted back to a credit or debit card...not a mere two days. I like OYA alot. So tell your friend to settle down. OYA is a cool place and their wine list is really outside the bottle. Where else can you sample cool wines from Idaho, North Carolina and Ohio? Sure its not CityZen, but who can afford such luxury on a consistent basis?

honeykbee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
honeykbee said...

I agree with the previous posters but a lag in posting time does not make unreturned customer calls acceptable. Thanks for the heads up!

John said...

I appreciate this heads up. I'll certainly be extra careful now with online reservations, and let Ina know that, because of her bad experience, my wife and I will never be eating Oya. This wasn't acceptable, and under the circumstances, Oya should have gone the extra mile to offer a cash refund to avoid someone having to float and endure the cost of their mistake.

Yes, this is a common practice, but it shouldn't be, and what will fix it is consumers not standing for it.

Lara said...

Good words.

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