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Saturday, March 11, 2006

A Heartfelt Plea From A Reader

Posted by on March 11 at 20:12 PM

Never underestimate the fury of an Erasure fan scorned. Here, in its entirety, is a testimony/call to action sent to The Stranger by a lady we’ll call Kimberly, because that’s her name.

I am writing about a issue that has caused myself and many others much heartache. Something must be done about scalpers. I tried to order Erasure tickets this morning and to my dismay they were sold out. I was so angry, so jealous of all the happy people in this city who were going to bask in Vince and Andy’s glory.

I decided to go to the next level. I looked on ebay, a disgusting thing to do. The cheapest tickets were $100.00. And, there were tons posted. Then I did a search and found that there are a number of “brokers” online to buy
from. Tickets start at $125.00. At this point I become furious. If there are only 700 tickets available, and I saw at least 100 postings before I gave in to my misery, what does that mean? Do we really have to pay three time the face value to see shows?

Your paper has pull in the community. Can something be done? Ask the Showbox to re-sell the tickets, a do-over if you will. Make people go to the box office to buy. I know I would, and so would anyone who truly wants to see the show. Get rid of the dirtbags. I know this will never happen, but, can we come up with a way to change this? For the future of music as we know it.

My heart is broken.

What think you, readers? Are such scenarios of “sold out” tickets becoming instant scalp product common? Are the official limits on ticket sales too easily foiled? On the Ticketmaster website, listings for upcoming shows by Fall Out Boy, Queen and Paul Rogers, and the Sasquatch Festival specify “8 Tickets per house hold strictly inforced” [sic]; for comedian Kate Clinton, the limit’s upped to 10 per household. But all limit specifications are followed by this polite warning:

Please adhere to published ticket limits. Persons who exceed the ticket limit may have any or all of their orders and tickets cancelled without notice by Ticketmaster in its discretion. This includes orders associated with the same name, email address, billing address, credit card number or other information.

As the kids say, “Discuss.”


CommentsRSS icon

they ought to just auction them all off.

An eight ticket limit is the standard and it is frequently exceeded. There have been attempts over the past few years to foil scalpers and ensure that those who buy the tickets are those who attend the show. Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Nine Inch Nails have all played shows in the last two years that (1) had strict ticket limits, usually two tickets and/or (2) required the ticket purchasers to pick up the tickets at the box office and walk directly into the venue. The second of these safeguards is very effective but equally cumbersome. As such it is typically utilized only for special shows (Buffett in a 1,000 capacity club) or only for a band's fan club members. Nine Inch Nails printed the names of those who bought tickets through their fan club on the tickets.

Auctions are becoming more common but they are due largely to artists recognizing that they are missing out on a lot of money in the secondary ticket market. Auctions are an attempt to capture some of that revenue, not to end scalping.

An eight ticket limit is the standard and it is frequently exceeded. There have been attempts over the past few years to foil scalpers and ensure that those who buy the tickets are those who attend the show. Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Nine Inch Nails have all played shows in the last two years that (1) had strict ticket limits, usually two tickets and/or (2) required the ticket purchasers to pick up the tickets at the box office and walk directly into the venue. The second of these safeguards is very effective but equally cumbersome. As such it is typically utilized only for special shows (Buffett in a 1,000 capacity club) or only for a band's fan club members. Nine Inch Nails printed the names of those who bought tickets through their fan club on the tickets.

Auctions are becoming more common but they are due largely to artists recognizing that they are missing out on a lot of money in the secondary ticket market. Auctions are an attempt to capture some of that revenue, not to end scalping.

Auctions are the social consensus of value. In a free society, ultimately that is the way we determine value. The stock market itself is modeled on auction theory.
Limiting the number of tickets is a good way to go; however, as this case - and others - show, the cost of tickets will still go up, unless no one really wants to see the group. Newspapers have no business asking a vendor to reissue tickets. It's certainly too bad, when true fans get left out in the cold. But in this society, that's going to happen. Capitalism is oftentimes cruel.

"Oftentimes", eh? Why is it the invisible hand of the market always seems to be hitting us in the face? More like the invisible fist of the market.

I've benefited from scalpers twice in my life and was glad to pay the price. I've also been the fan who stands outside the venue for the show to get tickets and the one who was turned away minutes later because the show sold out via electronic sales.

Scalpers are never going away, nor should they. If ticket limits are placed, then scalpers hire people to stand in line and buy the tickets. The extra costs of paying people to stand in line (or use PCs online) is handed over to the secondary consumer in the price of the resale. C'mon, folks, you talk about the virtues of living in a world class city, well, this market is one of those virtues.

However, it might be fair to call for an journalistic investigation into the practices of ticket brokers (ones who do this as a legit business, as opposed to those who place ads in the paper). It may be that they are using some sort of automated system. It may be that they are using an inside (read: corrupt) connecting with Ticketslave or other sellers (the venues). It may be informative to consumers to find out that these businesses are selling their tickets through eBay at a discount compared to what consumers pay directly to the resellers. That could be an interesting article.

All the scalpers need are 8 tickets. If you sell each ticket at 2-3 times its value, and if we're talking $50-100 tickets, then you'll easily make at least as much as you'd make in a month at a part-time job if you sell them all.

It's become symptomatic. Concerts and shows are 'sold out' in a matter of minutes, but I betcha a good chunk of those tickets, probably more than the 100 out of 700 that crazed poster mentioned in her example, are swallowed up by scalpers who then turn and sell them back for twice or more the face value.

The only solution to stop scalping would be to make scalping a crime (if you haven't yet) and then run plain-clothes stings on people who scalp or run ads for tickets at 2-3 times face value. Of course, the cops in cities don't really care, so then what? Ticketmaster doesn't care because scalping actually makes it easier to make their money (any policy they have against it is lip service to keep demand for shows up). Vigilantism?

Or you could do the 2 ticket limit and auctions for all shows. But as stated, that's quite cumbersome when it is done, which isn't often.

I think the promoters ought to try selling the entire run of tickets on Ebay. That would be an interesting experiment. And the band and promoter would get the dough instead of middlemen who game the system.

I used to think Glen Frey was the biggest asshole in the music business. The Eagles were one of the first groups to charge over $100 for tickets, and he rationalized it by saying that his courtside Lakers playoff tickets cost more.

But the secondary market has become big business. It's hard to blame an artist for wanting a piece of the 2x and 3x face value they see being paid for tickets to his show. You're not dealing with a shady guy or two outside the arena, you are dealing with crews of employees standing in line at Ticketmaster every Saturday morning.

So who is really to blame? Rich assholes who can afford 3x face value to go to sold out shows, and don't want to be bothered standing in line. Apparently, there are a lot of them.

Erasure tickets were on sale through TicketsWest. Ticketmaster puts limits on their tickets because of scalping problems, but what does TicketsWest do? My beef is that they sold out entirely in PRE-SALE. The tickets weren't even going on public sale until the following Saturday, but instead of limiting the number of pre-sale tickets they completely sold out within minutes. I had the pre-sale code, but I was at work at the time they went on sale and, thus, wound up on eBay and will be going to the show solo.

I doubt you missed much Erasure is doing an acoustic tour. Huh? Aren't they a dance band?

Anyway - since the FCC is cracking down on offensive language and suggestively fictional scenes. Teen orgies on TV - sign me up. And why is Fox exempt while CBS is takes it up the butt?

Hmmm - 3 million dollars for an obsenity while mining disasters net 100K that will probably be knocked down to a grand on appeal.

But I'm offended by obsenity as much as the next guy. Which is why in this election season newscasters or tv ads should not be able to utter that word associated with a sex act. And I blush as I write this - Santorum. I certainly understand if this post is censored. But I implore everyone to write to the FCC whenever the offending word is said on network TV and demand the severist punishment possible - fines of one million dollars and the loss of their broadcasting license.

Nice site

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