“Life’s too short to wait for the check,” is the motto of Pay with OpenTable, the new app-based feature that allows restaurant customers to literally skip out on their restaurant check and pay via phone whenever they’re ready to settle up. The mobile service is already active in San Francisco and New York and launches today in Washington with 20 restaurants ready to participate (see the list below). Another 20 cities are expected to get the feature in 2014.
“We’re in an evolution from a transactional brand to an experiences company,” says Scott Jampol, senior vice president of marketing for OpenTable. Such “experiences” include a recent partnership with Uber to ferry diners to and from the eatery, and more site content so guests can browse food photos and plan their meals. “We realized there was an opportunity for us to transform the dining experience,” says Jampol.
Their argument for the new payment service: A lengthy wait for the bill, or rushed delivery, can sour an otherwise pleasant dining experience. Removing that variable can lead to happier guests and businesses alike, not to mention relieving the pain of negotiating the tab after a business lunch or romantic date.
The free process is fairly simple and doesn’t require downloading a new version of the OpenTable app. Diners enter credit card information—including American Express, which many restaurants don’t accept due to higher processing fees—and book a reservation at a participating restaurant such as Roofers Union or Del Campo. When they’re ready to pay, they launch the mobile OpenTable app. A real-time itemized receipt appears with the subtotal and tax, and diners can select a tip amount—from 0 to 22 percent—and an automatic setting to calculate gratuity pre- and post-tax. Once the payment is authorized, guests can leave, while their bill appears in the restaurant’s system and a receipt is e-mailed to the diner.
Unfortunately you can’t currently split checks with dining companions, a service that competing app Cover offers (though not in Washington; it currently only operates in SF and NYC). Jampol says to look for that feature in the future, as well as the ability to settle a tab with Apple Pay, Apple’s soon-to-launch program that lets iPhone 6 users pay for a variety of items and services via fingerprint ID.
Extremely convenient or increasingly impersonal? You decide, and let us know in the comments.
Inaugural Pay with OpenTable Restaurants in Washington