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I Loathe Ticket Brokers - They Are The Scum Of The Earth


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#1 of 95 Bob Movies

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Posted September 26 2003 - 07:34 PM

On Wednesday I read in the paper that Chris Rock had just announced a show in Toronto, and tickets were going on sale today (Friday). This morning I went at 7:00 a.m. to line up (tickets went on sale at 10:00). I was the first guy in line, and after waiting for three hours I was really lucky to get two good seats, right in the centre of the very front row – they’re the best concert tickets I’ve ever got.

OK, so why do I hate brokers? Check this out: I paid $75 for each ticket at the box office. Total price for 2 tickets = $150.00 Canadian.

Right now, ticket brokers are asking $375(US) PER TICKET, and that’s for seats in row B (behind mine!) Total price for 2 tickets = $1,015.96 Canadian.

That’s almost SEVEN times the face value! They’re asking $210 (each) for some of the worst seats in the house! This is outrageous and completely unfair. The show sold out in about half an hour, which isn’t surprising since the brokers just buy up massive amounts. How do I know this? There was a broker behind me in line today, named Mike. He was a guy with chipped teeth and a big gut who wore a black shirt and a lot of gold jewellery. He was talking on his cell phone the entire time, so I overheard most of his conversation and got a decent idea of how these guys operate:

First, his partner (a guy named Wally) showed up about three minutes before tickets went on sale, and he let him in line. As soon as tickets went on sale they both bought the maximum (six tickets each) while simultaneously calling on their cell phones to place credit card orders. I noticed that he had several different credit cards (since you can only do a maximum of six tickets on each card) and I heard them planning to drive to two other nearby ticketmaster outlets to get all the tickets they could.

Assuming they both used three credit cards and hit three box office windows, they could have got 72 tickets between the two of them. I’m sure they also had a dude sitting at home and ordering through ticketmaster.com too - no wonder the show sold out so fast! I just think it’s brutal that two or three guys can buy up a hundred tickets for a major event like this in about fifteen minutes. That’s one twentieth of all the seats available. And of course the real fans, the people who just want to see Chris Rock, get screwed because now their options are limited to paying a huge fee at a broker or not going to the show at all.

It honestly made me feel good to say that I only wanted two tickets – I know that if I had been greedy I wouldn’t have been able to get into the front row, so a small part of me is happy that Mike and Wally didn’t get the very best seats... I’m sure if they did, the prices would be adjusted accordingly to $450 each.

The same thing happened when Jerry Seinfeld came here last year. I didn’t hear about it until the day tickets were being sold, and of course, it sold out instantly. Luckily he added two more shows, and I was able to line up (at 5:00 a.m. that time!) to secure two seats.

I want to know what we can do about brokers, to shut them down, and put them out of business. I know it doesn’t help that Ticketmaster has basically turned into a broker itself by implementing a plan to auction the best seats off, so that the “biggest fans” can get them. It’s funny how they mistake the richest fans for the biggest fans, but so long as they’re making money I guess they don’t care. Would a policy work where they took down one name for each pair of tickets purchased, and someone would need to show ID at the door to be admitted? It seems a bit cumbersome, and I doubt Ticketmaster would bother to implement anything like that.

This is something that bothers me quite a lot! Does anyone else have any opinions or suggestions about positive things that can be done to put tickets into the hands of actual fans, instead of these con men?

I'll enjoy these front row seats, since with Ticketmaster's new policy I don't know if I'll ever be sitting in the front row again.

#2 of 95 brentl

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Posted September 26 2003 - 07:45 PM

Supposedly a new law has been passed(in T.o. anyways) and the cop can charge up to 5grand for scalpers caught selling in front of shows.

article

Brent

#3 of 95 EugeneR

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Posted September 26 2003 - 08:17 PM

While I understand your frustration, it seems to me this is simply capitalism at work. Highly desirable, scarce goods bring a premium price. The way to eliminate sleazy scalpers would simply be to charge what the tickets are actually worth, as opposed to setting some arbitrary price which is well below market value. If the good seats were initially priced at $300-400, there would not be a problem. In fact, tickets are one of the only commoditites you can get at prices significantly below market by putting in a little effort. You got up early and had the good fortune of getting the tickets at a fraction of their actual value.

If the tickets were priced according to what they were actually worth, there would be no line or any need to get up early--as long as you were willing to pay market rates. The only reason the tickets are difficult to get is that demand far outpaces supply, which by definition means that they are undervalued. This artificial imbalance could be easily remedied by sharply raising the face value of the tickets, thereby bringing demand in line with supply. However, I doubt that would make many people happy.

As far as having good tickets available for "real fans" is concerned, determining whether someone is "deserving" of acquiring goods is not a function of the market economy. Actually, acquisition and availability of goods based on need is the exact principle on which communism is based.

I'm a real big fan of the newest Aston Martin, but I doubt that I would be able to buy one at a fraction of its cost by getting to the dealership early. Don't I "deserve" to get it over some other guy who isn't into Aston Martins all that much, but has a boatload of money and buys one on a lark?

The scalpers are simply an economic mechanism correcting an artificially-created market imbalance. They are clearing a bottleneck in the system by making premium goods available to those willing to pay market price for them. If it wasn't scalpers, some other mechanism would emerge. In a market economy, that is as inevitable as the tide.

#4 of 95 Shane Bos

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Posted September 26 2003 - 09:27 PM

Scalping laws are so easy to get around. Most people say for a baseball or football game would say sell 2 tickets and a hat allowing them to charge whatever price they like say $1,000. The tickets may have a face value of $100 each but because they have included the hat means that the tickets are still only selling for $100 each but it's an $800 hat. Most concerts/Comedians are sold the same way however substituting transportation for the hat.

I understand Bob. Blue Man Group is doing 2 shows in Alberta however both were sold out before I even heard about it.

Also I tried to get tickets to the Heritage Classic hockey game between the Oilers and Canadiens. That system was a draw. You entered your name and if they pulled it out you got the right to purchase up to 4 seats. However season ticket holders had the first crack at extra seats allowing them to buy in addition to their regular seats up to that many seats again. If they had 4 season tickets then they would get those 4 seats plus be able to buy 4 more seats. Thus selling 47,000 of 60,000 tickets to season ticket holders and only leaving 13,000 seats for the rest of us to hope to get.

#5 of 95 Bob Movies

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Posted September 27 2003 - 02:17 AM

Eugene,

You make some interesting points, but I think that no matter what the face value of the tickets is, scalpers will still buy them and double/triple/quadruple it. I wonder if the brokers will be the ones winning the auctions when Ticketmaster starts the lottery program?

When I say that tickets should be reserved for "real fans", I mean only that the tickets should be bought by the people who actually intend to use them at the concert. The ticket is a contract between the venue/performer and the person buying the ticket. The artist is performing for his or her fans, the people who enjoy the performer and want to see them live. When the same twenty brokers buy up every single ticket for every event, it doesn’t leave much room for the people who simply want to attend the show. They are redundant middlemen who jack up the price far beyond the reach of many fans. If the artists only wanted to do a tour for the wealthy they would just set prices at $10,000 each and only the richest people would go. The prices are set reasonably so that everyone (in theory) has a chance to go.

Even if scalping isn’t illegal, it’s unethical. Brokers are bullies who break the rules, the same as someone who cuts in front of you in line. The reason Ticketmaster limits people to six tickets is because (with a few special cases) six tickets is the maximum number that one person would need. If you want to bring more than five friends, someone else needs to go too, or you can call the group sales dept. They’re trying to keep it fair by limiting people to six tickets each, but the brokers unethically circumvent this by ordering through multiple methods simultaneously. It’s really the lack of morals that bothers me so much. I just don’t like to see people taken advantage of, even if it’s not illegal.

To use your Aston Martin example, if you saved $150,000 and headed to the dealer to buy one, it would be pretty frustrating if I got there before you, bought the entire dealer’s inventory, and then jacked the price up to $1 million per car. I know it’s kind of a silly example, but I’m not getting the tickets at a fraction of the cost when I buy them early, I’m getting them at the actual cost.

The world would be a nicer place if the only people who ever bought a Brittany Spears ticket were actual Brittany Spears fans.

P.S. I like the idea of scalpers getting fined, though that really only stops the guys selling tickets at the gate. It would be good to write the ticket about 15 minutes before the start of the event, and really take your time, so by the time it was finished the unsold tickets were worthless.

#6 of 95 Patrick Sun

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Posted September 27 2003 - 02:42 AM

If you think scalping is bad, IIRC, I've glossed over articles about the primo seats for events being auctioned off in a joint venture between Ticketmaster and Ebay.
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#7 of 95 Steven K

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Posted September 27 2003 - 03:14 AM

I hate ticket brokers myself as well. However, as someone who believes in the tenets of Capitalism, I have to admit that what they are doing, while unethical, is not illegal nor should it be.

Last Friday night at 6 PM, tickets for the Red Sox playoff games went on sale. Both my wife and I went online into the virtual waiting room, waiting to buy a set of tickets. We also called the box office, the handicapped number, as well as the number for deaf people... but to no avail. For the next two hours, we waitied - finally we were informed, 2 hours later, that the game was sold out. The game was sold out by 6:15 - 15 minutes after tickets went on sale. Only 9,000 tickets were made available - the rest went to season ticket holders and various ticket brokers.

Was I upset - extremely. I realized that the only way I was going to get a ticket was to buy online from a scalperbroker. My wife and I both wanted to go very much - however, I really wanted my wife to be able to go. And, since I'm going to the Titans Patriots game on the 5th and couldn't get her a ticket for that, I thought it would be perfect to get her a ticket for one of the playoff games. So, I scoped out about 10 different online brokers. I was finally able to find a decent bleacher ticket (just one) for $140... so I bought it. It is 7 times above face, but, the ticket was available for me to buy, and I made a decision and bought it. I'm going to surprise her with it tonight (she currently thinks that she wont be able to go to any of the playoff games).

The moral of the story: as much as it might hurt to hear, nobody forces anyone to buy a ticket from a brokerscalper. I don't like the fact that a majority of tickets get dealt to these people - but the reality is that, for high-demand events, there will always be people who aren't able to get tickets, even if ALL the allocated tickets are sold to "fans." The people who aren't able to get a ticket will always complain, and there is always going to be someone who realizes that the opportunity cost of not reselling the ticket for a premium will outweigh the opportunity benefit of attending the event - and those people will "scalp" the ticket. It's just happening on a larger scale right now, but, in a capitalist society such as ours, this will always happen.

#8 of 95 MikeDeVincenzo

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Posted September 27 2003 - 05:15 AM

Steven

What do you think of the scheme that the Chicago Cubs have come up with, selling the best seats at Wrigley Field to a broker, "Wrigley Field Premium" which is essentially a subisdiary business of the Cubs and their owner, the Tribune Company, itself.

In practice if not in word, the Cubs are scalping their own tickets, a practice outlawed by the Illinois Ticket Scapling Act which states that if you hold an event, you can't resell tickets over their face value.

More information here:

http://premium.baseb....articleid=1924

#9 of 95 Brian Perry

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Posted September 27 2003 - 08:46 AM

Speaking of the Cubs, fans who bought tickets on the "secondary market" were absolutely screwed yesterday.

Yesterday's game was rained out, but instead of rescheduling it for today as a separate event, the Cubs added it to today's game as a doubleheader. Since today's game was already sold out, people holding tickets for yesterday's game were offered an equivalent ticket for next year or a refund of face value (small consolation if you paid $400 to a broker for a $45 ticket).

#10 of 95 Patrick_S

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Posted September 27 2003 - 09:23 AM

I guess those are the chances you take when you buy from a broker, although I do feel sorry for those who did get screwed.

Also a little clarification needs to be made concerning the Cubs' doubleheader today.

The Cubs would have gladly schedule a day-night doubleheader if they could have (after all the Cubs probably lost close to a million dollars in revenue by not have two separate sold out games) but unfortunately circumstances have prohibited them from doing so.

The city does not allow the Cubs to played night games on Saturdays. There was no way that they would have been able to clear out the stadium and let the ticket holders for today's schedule game in and start before the mandated deadline.

Secondly, being the last weekend of the season they could not schedule the game from later in the year.

#11 of 95 Bob Graz

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Posted September 27 2003 - 11:17 AM

NC has a law, tickets can only be scalped for face value plus $3.00 and they enforce it. I'm sure tickets are sold for much more but at least it's an attempt to keep tickets available for everyone at face value.

#12 of 95 Tom Meyer

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Posted September 27 2003 - 12:03 PM

I believe the Cubs are being sued for their little scalping operation.

Brokers are gonna have a field day here for playoff tickets !

#13 of 95 Brian Perry

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Posted September 27 2003 - 01:36 PM

The thing that puzzles me is why the game couldn't have been rescheduled for 9:00 a.m. or thereabouts, with the second game at 3:00 p.m.

I agree that it wasn't the Cubs' fault and that it was mainly bad luck--in fact, the Cubs would have drawn 3 million fans for the first time ever if the game hadn't been washed out.

#14 of 95 Joseph S

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Posted September 27 2003 - 03:32 PM

Quote:
The game was sold out by 6:15 - 15 minutes after tickets went on sale. Only 9,000 tickets were made available - the rest went to season ticket holders and various ticket brokers.

Whoever told you that was incorrect. The tickets were available almost three hours later. Somewhere between 8:45 and 8:55 they sold out. If you try to get them again here are some tips.

1)Open several different browsers on as many computers as needed.
2)Once out of the waiting room you are offered a choice of number of tickets and location. (Pick what number you want and "best available" for seating.)
This is another wait step that required a few tries for it to find you the tickets. I believe those that wanted to try for different seats were kicked back to the wait room.
3)Have credit card at hand and type fast because you have 1+ min to accept the offered seats and then another 3.5 minutes to enter in all your data.

You didn't get that bad of deal considering they added $6 per ticket and then a $14 charge for shipping.


There's a raffle to buy the Monster seats at redsox.com

#15 of 95 Steven K

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Posted September 27 2003 - 03:57 PM

Joseph,

Did you get a ticket online this late? When we finally did get through (and it was before 8:55) we were informed that it was sold out - same deal on the phone. By 8:00 we got messages both ways.

I did enter the Monster raffle, and I'll be trying on Monday for the next round of tix.

I did give the ticket receipt to my wife tonight, and she was ecstatic - so in my eyes, it was worth every penny that I paid.

#16 of 95 Joseph S

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Posted September 27 2003 - 04:20 PM

Yes, I had a final purchase go through at about 8:47 for the third game which was after the 8:45 time listed on the press release at mlb.com. Perhaps the fourth game sold out a little earlier.

Anyways, they just announced the ALCS tickets go on sale 6PM EST Monday. I actually had to call on the phone 2.5 hours with the Sox down 2-0 to Cleveland to get tickets for the last ALCS so it might be rougher this year.

It appears the first game starts at 10EST/9Central. Way to go Bud, bringing the games to the fans. Posted Image Posted Image He's looking for Joe West to join the ALCS crew. Posted Image

#17 of 95 Max Leung

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Posted September 27 2003 - 08:22 PM

Edmonton is hosting an old-timers hockey event (Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Maurice Richard, etc. etc. etc.). In a small arena that seats 6,000 people. Instead of selling tickets the usual way (through the ripoff called Ticketmaster), they decided to hold a lottery. You sign up to promise to buy one or two tickets, and if you are one of the 6,000 lucky winners, you have the right to purchase them.

Simple, fair, and no fricking brokers or scalpers. Period.
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#18 of 95 Shane Bos

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Posted September 27 2003 - 08:49 PM

Quote:
In a small arena that seats 6,000 people

Umm Max I don't know what info you guys get in Clagary but that game is being held in Commonwealth Stadium with an expected 60,000 fans there.

#19 of 95 Christ Reynolds

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Posted September 28 2003 - 10:38 AM

Quote:
You sign up to promise to buy one or two tickets, and if you are one of the 6,000 lucky winners, you have the right to purchase them. Simple, fair, and no fricking brokers or scalpers. Period.
or, you could scalp them. on a smaller scale of course. but once you get the right to purchase a ticket, then you open it up to anyone, not just the 'honest' people.

if tickets were sold at their actual value (as the scalpers sell them at) and not their face value, then only the very rich would be able to afford them. this of course doesnt apply to baseball games or anything like that, there are plenty of games for people to obtain seats to. i'm only talking about the smaller performances, as originally posted here. i believe the solution to the scalping problem for these small shows is to not sell tickets, but to sell admissions. instead of buying a physical ticket, you would buy an admission. you get the admission, online or in person, and you may only get a receipt, which cannot be transferred. you then must bring ID to the ticket booth for admission to the event. eliminating something tangible for scalpers to buy and sell would make it very tough for them to operate. of course this is not a perfect system, but i think it could be implemented, if the venues really cared about eliminating scalping.

Quote:
Edmonton is hosting an old-timers hockey event (Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Maurice Richard, etc. etc. etc.)
i wonder how well maurice richard can skate from his deathbed? he has only been dead for three years, so i'll bet he still has some pep.

CJ
And then when I feel so stuffed I can't eat anymore, I just use the restroom! And then I CAN eat more!

#20 of 95 Max Leung

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Posted September 28 2003 - 07:22 PM

Quote:
Umm Max I don't know what info you guys get in Clagary...

Blame my friends. They aren't very good at numbers. Posted Image

I must be thinking of another hockey player besides Maurice. Whatever. I haven't followed hockey since the original Oilers stars sold out.
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....


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