How can I make a stranger believe I'm good for $500?
July 3, 2015 4:30 PM   Subscribe

I'm visiting Copenhagen in a couple months and found someone on the Lonely Planet forums looking for extra people to round out his reservation at noma for the exact time I'll be there. I jumped at this chance, as reservations are very difficult to come by and I'll probably only be in Copenhagen once in my life.

Now I'm exchanging emails with the guy, who seems perfectly legit (his email address is a gmail with a real name, which matches a LinkedIn profile with a picture that is the same as on the Lonely Planet profile, etc.), and he understandably wants some sort of guarantee that my husband and I are going to show up at the restaurant to eat dinner with him and his friend, as if we don't it's going to cost him around $500 US.

It seems risky to Paypal the guy some money ahead of time, as I also have no guarantee that he is going to show up. Can you help me brainstorm some ways we can engender mutual trust here? Is there some sort of escrow service out there for something like this?
posted by something something to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There are indeed internet escrow services. is a major one, but it'll run you about $25 to put $500 in escrow, plus another $25 for transaction costs to a non-US bank account. I think there are others that might be cheaper, but you'll have to do your due diligence to find a reputable one.
posted by alligatorpear at 4:40 PM on July 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

Perhaps pay half by pay pal as a good faith token? And if it doesn't work out, then you're only out half of it.
posted by EtTuHealy at 5:01 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's his idea to do this; what does he suggest, and are you comfortable with it?
posted by Scram at 5:07 PM on July 3, 2015

Is there any way you can pay your portion directly to the restaurant, by credit card, over the phone? Then perhaps they could send some sort of receipt and/or your new friend could call the restaurant to confirm.
posted by amtho at 5:07 PM on July 3, 2015 [12 favorites]

Amtho's suggestion is certainly the safest and most straightforward, and I would be really surprised if noma even blinked at such a thing.

(I'm so jealous I can barely even type.)
posted by Lyn Never at 5:14 PM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

Cancellations are possible without a huge fee if done in advance (I semi-cancelled, being unable to fill a full table-- they gave our original table away and we were able to join the shared table). But they don't want you to do that either.

I definitely suggest you contact noma- I recall having a tough time getting them on the phone though, so you might try email, as listed on their reservations page. They were very helpful for me and can probably secure part of the reservation with your card, and part with your new friend's.
posted by nat at 5:19 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh also reservations require a reconfirmation 2 weeks in advance-- will you be in Copenhagen early enough to just meet them in person before that?
posted by nat at 5:20 PM on July 3, 2015

Email them pictures of your boarding passes and call them / meet for coffee when you land. I think that's reasonable. Everything else seems difficult. And I think the excitement of a big restaurant outing/experience is enough to seal the deal.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:39 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd add to the above that your asking them to trust you and NOT send money now. They want you to trust them and send money now. So give them the trust that you seek from them and send them some money (say maybe $150??) as good faith. PayPal will get your back if you get screwed.
posted by chasles at 5:06 AM on July 4, 2015

Thanks for the ideas - he is looking into whether I can add my credit card to the reservation but seems okay with the airline confirmation I've emailed to him.

omg I'm going to noma
posted by something something at 9:54 AM on July 5, 2015 [4 favorites]

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