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Buy a $25 gift certificate for a local eatery for just $1

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Restaurant.com has come up with an innovative way to bring restaurants and new patrons together. This website allows patrons to buy gift certificates for new, favorite, or hot spot dining experiences for reduced prices. The typical $25 gift certificate sold by Restaurant.com to members is $10. Patrons are expected to order $35 worth of food, and the restaurant will cover $25 of the check. The remaining bill is $10.00 or more, which the patron is responsible for paying. Patrons pay $10 for the certificate and $10 minimum for the total bill and add a tip, which most restaurants calculate and add to the bill. At the end of the entire transaction, patrons pay about half, and the restaurant pays the other half.

That's not a bad deal at all; it is about as good as patrons will find in Entertainment Books that come out each year. When patrons first come to the Restaurant.com site, that is the regular deal, but it is not the best or only deal. Restaurant.com runs virtually continual specials on gift certificates, and after patrons purchase the first gift certificate from the website, Restaurant.com sends out regular emails publicizing their specials and providing the discount code as each new special starts. Most specials are just $2, $3, or $4 for each $25 gift certificate.

TODAY ONLY $25 gift certificates are available for local eateries for just $1 when shoppers use the code WOW. The certificate does not have an expiration date in California, so buyers can store unused certificates on the site for later printing and use. Each certificate comes with a code that authenticates it. Businesses call the Restaurant.com client line to confirm the validity of the certificate, and once it is confirmed, the discount is applied to the patron's bill. If a gift certificate buyer prints out a certificate and decides not to use it, it can be discarded; unused certificates can be reprinted at any time.

For the $1 deal, patrons pay a minimum of $11.00 + tip TOTAL a meal worth $35.00. The rest will be covered by the restaurant. If a patron's total bill exceeds $35.00, he or she is responsible for the difference, but if the patron keeps the order as close to the minimum as possible, it's a remarkable deal.

Be sure to read the restaurant's page on Restaurant.com carefully as some restaurants arrange different deals with the website than the standard $10 for a $25 certificate. Restaurants may also limit the days during which a certificate can be used. All information about limitiations is viewable on individual restaurants' pages at Restaurant.com.

There are now 100 restaurants in the immediate area including Livingstone's in the Tower District, Fajita Fiesta at two locations, and Thai Palms and mangOsteen Asian Bistro in north Fresno. Visitors to the Restaurant.com site can see the entire list of restaurants before making a purchase. Menus and maps are also available on the site.

If a business closes or decides to stop selling gift certificates through Restaurant.com before a patron uses a purchased certificate, Restaurant.com allows the patron to exchange it for restaurants that are still in the program with little or no hassle, and new restaurants are added all the time. The Better Business Bureau has rated Restaurant.com an A+, so browse and order with confidence.

Restaurant.com has been used successfully many times by Frugal Living Examiner Leslie Basden. If you have tried Restaurant.com, tell us about your experience! Post your comments here or send me email at frugal.leslie@gmail.com.

Do you have a getting-through-the-joblessness-crisis tip you'd like to share with others? Are you a business owner with a deal to publicize? Write to me at frugal.leslie@gmail.com. I'll investigate and post what I turn up.

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