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Table for none? Rogue worker hacks rival’s reservations

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OpenTable has a lot of egg on its face.

The San Francisco-based online restaurant booking company is dancing on the fire after a rogue employee, who has since been fired, made several hundred fake reservations via rival Reserve that resulted in hundreds of no-shows at 45 Chicago restaurants over the past three months.

New York-based Reserve has been operating in Chicago since April 2015.

Reserve’s security team investigated the no-shows, which occurred after the former OpenTable employee created several email accounts to make the reservations. The cold-hearted conniver’s scheme apparently peaked on Valentine’s Day — the second busiest day of the year for restaurants.

“This was obviously done with the intent to harm Reserve,” Reserve COO Michael Wesner told the Chicago Eater, which wrote about the scheme in an article published on Monday.

Reserve tried to cancel the fake reservations and alert the restaurants, and brought evidence of the scheme to OpenTable, which terminated the employee within 48 hours after conducting its own investigation and confirming the employee acted alone.

OpenTable apologized to Chicago-area restaurants and to Reserve for the “disgraceful, unsanctioned behavior.”

“As in any restaurant that makes a mistake, the first rule of hospitality is to make it right with the customer,” the company continued. “And we intend to do the same. As a result, we have already begun outreach to the restaurants affected and will reimburse them for lost revenue.”

The company also said it believes it has a responsibility to help build awareness of the impact of no-shows on restaurants, “which made this egregious behavior by a former OpenTable employee all the more painful.”

OpenTable did not comment on the former employee’s motivations, but did say the worker was not in a sales function and had no managerial duties.