Everyone Seems Mad At ReservationHop, Founder Admits He Was “Taken Aback” By The Criticism

So … have you heard about ReservationHop? I mean, it’s not quite the hottest topic on Twitter, but among the folks who have heard about it, the idea seems to have unleashed an impressive torrent of malevolent creativity.

Our own Josh Constine wrote a whole rant about it called “Stop The #JerkTech

The idea, basically, is that ReservationHop will help users get a table at in-demand restaurants. How? The company will make reservations in advance, and then allow users to claim those reservations up until four hours ahead of time, for a price. (The startup says pricing starts at $5.)

To be clear, there have been some positive responses, and some neutral ones, but I think it’s fair to say that most of the tweets, particularly the most passionate ones, have been intensely negative. And beyond Twitter, Josh Ong at The Next Web described the idea as “sleazy” and as “tech enabled scalping.”

Others have noted that this could make it even harder for folks who don’t want to use ReservationHop to get a reservation, and have compared it to apps that basically allow users to sell street parking. At least ReservationHop isn’t dealing with public property, so isn’t likely to run into the same legal problems as those parking apps.

I emailed ReservationHop founder Brian Mayer and asked if he was surprised by the criticism. “I’m not totally surprised by the reaction, but I have been taken aback by the level of hostility, especially for a product that addresses San Francisco’s love of both food and instant gratification, which I share,” he told me.

And despite the slams, Mayer defended the concept itself. He pointed to other startups like Zurvu and Killer Rezzy that do something similar and to restaurants like Alinea that offer pre-paid tickets. He also said that he’s open to working directly with restaurants (which should help avoid one of the more awkward things about the current system — the fact that you have to claim a reservation that’s under a different name).

“There are a lot of claims that we are selling something that’s ‘free,’ Mayer added. “But if you think about it, there’s nothing free about restaurant seating. There’s a limited number of tables in high demand and there are very long wait times for walk-ins.”

Personally, I found the response to ReservationHop as interesting, or at least as entertaining, as the idea itself. Something about it must have struck a nerve, making it seem like the embodiment of people’s preconceptions that startups are building pointless products for lazy, entitled jerks — and that they are, in the process, making things worse for everyone else. (I asked Mayer about the jerk criticism and he responded that he hadn’t heard anything like that.)

Plus, it’s July 3. There’s not a lot of tech news to compete with.

[image via Flickr/jenny downing]