Have you ever paid more than face value for a concert ticket? I have. There have been a few concerts that I really want to go to but didn’t get tickets before they sold out so I paid extra for them. I’m not sure if I’d ever pay extra for a table at a restaurant, though.

There are plenty of people who will. Using various websites and apps, they find tables that have already been reserved by someone else and buy the reservation.  It’s called table scalping, and it’s on the rise.

Sometimes the restaurants know their reservations are being scalped, perhaps even cooperate with the scalpers. But, not all restaurants know or approve. San Francisco’s Table 8 partners with top restaurants to offer last minute reservations. Their website says, “Tables at peak, sold-out times are offered for a reservation fee. Otherwise, they are on the house.”

Killer Rezzy, which offers reservations in New York City, partners with some restaurants but makes reservations at restaurants they don’t partner with under various names. If you purchase a reservation from one of their non-partner restaurants, you’ll have to check in under someone else’s name.

Whether they’re partnering with a restaurant or not, the table scalpers are making money on selling nothing but a reservation. Unlike some restaurants that have people put down a deposit on their reservation that gets deducted from their bill if they show up for the reservation, the money paid for a scalped table doesn’t get put toward the bill. It’s simply a fee paid for the privilege of obtaining a hard-to-get reservation at a desirable restaurant.

Unlike the concerts that I’ve paid above face value for that are usually experiences that can’t be replicated (the opening concert of the 2003 Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour, for example), most of the restaurants that people scalp tables for will still be around next month or next year, and eventually I’d be able to get a table. So I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation where I’d pay $20 or more just to get in the door of a restaurant and have a table.

Are there any circumstances under which you'd pay for a scalped restaurant reservation?

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