December 10, 2006

Ticket Scalping

I am in a grouchy mood so I am going to write about something that really ticks me off. Ticket scalping. It's been going on for years, but it seems like these days its almost IMPOSSIBLE to get a ticket for face value. Most of us are forced to go through a "ticket agency" or bid for tickets on-line (I just saw Clapton tickets on eBay for $250 each - face value, $85).

A friend of mine started a "ticket agency" back in the 80's so I know the inside scoop. He will pay loads of people (usually high school kids or people desperate for cash) to stand in line and buy the maximum number of tickets allowed. So, he will pay some kid to stand in line for five hours, lets say he gives the kid $50. To the kid, $10 an hour for standing around in a party like atmosphere is great money. So for every one fan you see standing in line (or these days calling or going on-line) there are hundreds of paid people buying tickets for various ticket brokers across the country.

Lets say the tickets are for Eric Clapton and sell for $55 - 85 per seat. If a broker paid fifty people to buy six tickets each, he now has 350 tickets which he can turn around and sell for double or triple face value. So it cost him $500 but he just made a profit of $3000.00.

But who PAYS for this? WE DO. It cracks me up to hear someone say "buy from a reputable ticket broker..." That's an oxy-moron!

One year I decided to use my friend's "agency" for tickets to Bruce because typically his tickets sell out so fast that I am forced to go through an agency to buy them. So when I showed up, hoping to get a decent ticket from this guy, he he took full advantage of the fact that he knows how much I love Bruce and tried to gouge me for even MORE than he would a "regular" customer. I had known this dude for years and even dated him for awhile! Greed does ugly things to people.

Long story short - I did not buy the tickets from him I saw through his scheme and never did business with him again. Sure, I still had to pay way over face value for good seats, but at least I knew I wasn't being played for a fool and taken advantage of.

I miss the days when I would spend 8 hours in line to get the best ticket possible. It was fair game - if you wanted them bad enough you got your ass to the Ticketron or Ticketmaster at 2 am and sat there until 10 am the next morning when they opened.

It's not right. Its so unfair. I went into debt to see U2 last year (I paid $400 per ticket for 2 seats - $800!! I had NO CHOICE, they were sold out and that was the best deal I could get with a decent seat).

I appreciate performers like Tom Petty who are actively fighting ticket scalping to insure that their fans can see a concert at a fair price.

Ok, I am done bitching. I feel better now.


Russ/rfduck said...

I've never been to a "big time," hugely popular concert where the tickets sell out in minutes. I go to smaller shows by artists I really love, artists with varying levels of popularity. The tickets are reasonable and in some cases I've been able to meet and interact with the musicians. That's the concert experience I like to have.

Bruce said...

No such thing as a reputable ticket broker(no offense to your friend)... It's the same way in sports. When I had season tickets to UVA football, there were always people with handfuls of tickets, selling them for much more than face value.
The St. Louis Cardinals have the "Prime Seat Club", where season ticket holders put some of their tickets up for bidding. It's a rip-off, of course, because you end up paying twice the face value most of the time.

David Amulet said...

Sorry you're grouchy.

I love music, as you know. I love concerts, as you know. There are many groups that I am a HUGE fan of and would really enjoy seeing live.

As you know.

But I cannot think of ANY concert worth $400 to me right now. Because any show charging that much is some bloated band in a stadium. A small club with real atmosphere--maybe. But only if it's Genesis with Peter singing and Steve playing ...

-- david

BarBarA said...

Russ, I love small shows too...but when your fave band is U2 you don't get that option TOO often...

Ditto this to David. $400 was a lot, but it was worth it. I just didn't buy anything else for a few months.

Bruce - don't worry I no longer consider him a friend and you are 100% CORRECT!

Amy said...


BeckEye said...

Yeah, I never even heard the term "ticket broker" until I moved to New York. Love that euphemism.

Wonderboy said...

Brokers stink. They have basically taken ownership of a chunk of the whole cultural scene and reserved it for the elite. Concerts, sporting events,'d better be ready to play. I have used them out of necessity and admittedly paid way too much to see some great shows. I am fortunate in that it didn't make me broke but the whole set up makes me angry.

Ticketbastard (aka Ticketmaster) is no bargain either.

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