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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Column: The tyranny of ticket scalpers

Fans lose out to scalpers, and it’s just plain unfair.

Jack Flemming

Feb. 18, 2014

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

I did everything right. I got out of class early. I set up my Mac on the right Web page. I copied and pasted all my debit card information for quicker access. But despite all of this, as soon as noon hit, Brand New’s concert in St. Louis had sold out within seconds.

All was not lost. I’d been listening to Brand New for as long as I could remember and I was determined to buy a ticket. Originally, tickets had cost around $30, so how much could the scalped tickets possibly jump in price? I went onto popular resale site StubHub.com, but as soon as I typed in the band’s name, my heart dropped. The price for a single ticket ranged anywhere from $100-$300.

The scalpers had struck again.

Ticket scalping refers to third parties who resell any and all types of tickets for a profit. While not a new concept, it is developing and evolving in increasingly consequential ways for the average American concert-goer. Modern-day ticket scalpers do anything to make a quick buck, including hiring young people to stand in lines to buy tickets, setting up programs to buy large quantities of online tickets, etc.

Unfortunately, because of the gray area of the law, this practice is difficult to prohibit. According to LegalZoom.com, as many as 15 states have taken measures to cut down on this crooked practice, including Missouri. In most cases though, the legislation simply isn’t aggressive enough to make a difference.

For example, Arizona passed a law prohibiting scalping within 200 feet of a venue. However, this weak legal measure simply forces scalpers to move a little further away to conduct business, and it fails to address online scalping.

Because of the ambiguity of the law, as well as its lack of enforcement, the scalping industry goes unchecked and unregulated. The government can set price ceilings on different types of products, but the sale — and resale — of tickets cannot truly be enforced.

If there’s little the government can do, there’s even less that bands can do. Hundreds of fellow ticketless Brand New fans angrily called for the band to expand their tour, thus opening up more opportunities for legitimate band-to-fan ticket exchanges. However, that’s simply not a fair request. The bands are not profiting off ticket scalping, so they’re just as against scalping as we are.

But just like us, their hands are tied.

As a result, passionate music fans and concert-goers everywhere suffer. As much as we despise the concept of it, our love for a band forces us to pay infinitely more because we don’t have the same technology to buy tickets as quickly as the money-hungry ticket scalpers.

We all have our own horror stories. I would go into mine, but I’m ashamed at the number of times I’ve funded this terrible practice because sometimes my music fandom outmuscles my pocketbook.

After so many costly concert experiences, I’m ready to end the reign of scalping tyrants. Like so many other injustices, the despotism can only be stopped by the ones on the losing end. If, as a collective, we can stop buying scalped tickets, then scalping would no longer be a lucrative industry. Once it ceases to have such a powerful hold on the concert industry, we can all live in a fairly-priced ticket utopia.

After I missed out on my Brand New ticket and shut down my laptop, as well as my dreams of ever seeing my No. 8 favorite band of all time, I vowed revenge. Everyone leaves a different mark on the world, but mine will be to end ticket scalping once and for all. If you care for the well-being of the concert industry, join me.

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Article comments

Feb. 22, 2014 at 1:19 p.m.

Shannon Hill: Excellent article. One thing that can be done is for the Venue to limit the number of tickets that can be purchased per CC. Venues have a box on their ticket program where they can set this number. On ours it is preset for 10 by ticketfly and we have to change to a lower number if we choose. I'm behind you.

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