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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: July 22, 2009 @ 2:32 pm

    Should Ebay clamp down on the ticket touts?

    Ciara O'Brien

    I used to have an advantage when it came to getting tickets for gigs. Having broadband at home when very few people would – or could – make the leap to higher speed lines meant that queuing outside HMV for tickets at 6am in the freezing cold was a thing of the past. Log on, get the tickets, go back to bed.

    These days, everyone has it. It’s hit and miss as to whether you manage to beat the crowds to snatch the last two tickets to the gig of your choice, but at least you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

    However, although it may be easier for music fans, broadband has also made it easier for touts to make a quick profit.
    Oh sure, the number of tickets you can buy in one transaction has been limited for most events. But while selling the tickets on used to involve a little more effort, these days you can buy the tickets at 9am and have them listed on Ebay only minutes later for far more than their face value.

    Let’s get one thing clear – I have no problem with people selling unwanted or unneeded concert tickets online for their face value, plus whatever handling fees were levied. Fans would pay that anyway had they bought the ticket through Ticketmaster or from the box office.

    And I get the concept of Ebay. I realise it’s there for people to make money. But it seems inherently unfair for people to buy tickets with the sole intention of selling them on for a profit, particularly when you see that the sellers other items are all concert tickets. And they are all priced at multiples of their face value.

    It opens up the market considerably to international sellers too.

    Look at the most recent gigs sold through Ticketmaster. A quick look on Ebay revealed and asking price of €161.94 for two seated tickets for the Script’s upcoming showsmat the Olympia – the same tickets bought from Ticketmaster would be €63. The same UK-based seller had tickets for a number of other music events for sale too.

    The Pixies were another act that were being flogged online. Tickets were on sale for a BIN price of €259 for two, when the face value was only €55 euro each. One ticket was available for the obscene sum of €179, another for €195.

    A US-based (according to the profile) seller had, among others, a ticket for The Specials on sale for more than €130 when the face value was just under €50.

    While genuine fans might be willing to pay anything to get their hands on the tickets, shouldn’t the practice of buying tcvkets with the intention of selling them on for vastly inflated prices be curtailed?

    Is it time Ebay banned people from selling concert tickets at more than face value?

    UPDATE: In light of today’s article, I doubt they’ll be doing anything to further cut their margins.

    • Redhead says:

      But even selling at face value there is the risk that you will get a counterfeit ticket esp now with Ticketfast… Nowadays you are buying tickets so far in advance that if the likes of Ticketmaster want to beat the touts then they need to offer a refund scheme whereby you can return your tickets to an outlet and then Ticketmaster can sell them again at the same price and the buyer knows they are getting genuine tickets. But then Ticketmaster have taken to auctioning tickets on their website so who’s the tout now??

    • cmac says:

      Pretty naive argument. Should I insist that a person selling their house cannot charge more than they paid for it?
      It’s called supply and demand: something is worth only what someone else is willing to pay for it. If it is not worth it you don’t buy it.

    • Ciara says:

      Naive it may be, but I disagree with ticket touts. Buying tickets purely to make a profit by immediately selling them on, whether it’s on ebay or in person outside the venue, amounts to the same thing in my book.

      Though every so often, touting doesn’t go quite to plan…

    • Alan says:

      I buy a lot of tickets on e bay . It is a great way to get sold out tickets . You have a choice to either buy them or not . Touts have always been around and like them or they do provide a service .

    • Paul says:

      Its called a free market economy! Its the way most of the world works!!

      If the prices being charged by touts was too high, then they wouldn’t sell tickets and they would make a loss.

      PS there are tickets for the electric picnic on sale at below face value on ebay, by a tout trying to offload asap. Good example of a market adjustment!

    • Paul Murphy says:

      Although good arguments are clearly stated on both sides, we live in a free-market-society. In other words, the market sets the price. We can dress it up any way we like, but in the end, if a buyer is willing to up their ante, a seller will come forward.

      In the case of the Croke gigs for U2, last minute tickets on sale kept the touts in the red and that should have taught them a long-delayed but good lesson.

      In the end, we cannot dictate pricing practices with website rules or legislation when there is a demand for the tickets.

      I would also like to address concerns outlined by bands when their tickets are sold for more than the face value. I hate to say: “Sorry Fellas”
      you cannot keep getting a commission on a previous sale. For example, I bought a classic car three years ago, and the value has gone up by 10%. The man who sold it to me three years ago has no right to come back and tell me he wants more money. I was the one who found the car due to the sellers ad, it was at a price set by the seller and I put my money on the table and he took it. Anything above that should be mine, right?

      A true free-market economy.

    • Dave says:

      I would have thought touting was a clear case of market distortion, but I guess the law doesn’t agree.

      I think there should be some sort of legal provision against it. Ticket prices are usually determined by how much the artist or band wants to charge their fans while also making a profit.

      The reason concert tickets aren’t usually sold on the basis of supply and demand alone is because musicians don’t like holding their fans to ransom.

    • Jim says:

      What is the difference between a tout and a retailer? why can’t we all buy at wholesale merchants? housing estates could shop together at huge discounts etc.etc. What about banking? they don’t lend actual deposits particulary given that deposits are ultimately sourced via money entered into the economy though loans, earning interest on money which costs nothing to create? Are there not bigger scams to be worried about than ticket touts? How about sniffing around the whole fiasco of Aella’s AIB-backed bid for Irish Continental Group against Moonduster and one Liam Carroll who just so happens to owe AIB approx. €400 million. Did it not occur to AIB that they were lending money to competing interests which was artificially driving up ICG’s share price? Ah c’mon now……that would be journalism!

    • Ciara says:

      Alan – I’ve nothing against buying/selling tickets on Ebay (for face value). People get stuck with unwanted tickets all the time. But some of the blatant gouging is distasteful. At least with Ticketmaster, I expect the “handling fee” malarkey.

      Paul M – Outside Croker on Friday night, touts weren’t buying and they couldn’t give away the tickets they had. It was the Monday night ones who cashed in….plenty of desperate fans carrying signs looking for tickets.

      Dave – My thoughts exactly.

      Jim – Well, this IS a technology blog. Hence the ebay slant.

    • Joe says:

      It might be an unsavoury practice but it is called ‘capitalism’, The market determines the price of something in short supply. By all means let us ban this practice and then let us ban the practice of hotels and restuarants putting up their prices during festivals or concerts. Let us ban banks gouging us just because they can. Let us ban supermarkets and multiples charging more than they do elsewhere. Why should tickets for concerts or football matches be treated any differently to any other business.

    • Emma says:

      I paid 300 quid for 2 pixies tickets a few weeks ago about 20 seconds after they sold out on ticketmaster. The ad was ready to go on eBay the minute the gig sold out. I wanted to tell the seller that I thought he was a *blank* but instead I bought the tickets because I really wanted to go. It broke my heart :(

    • Peadair says:

      The issue here is that the touts are cheating the system. There is a limit on the number of tickets someone can purchase but they just get lots of people to buy tickets for them in order to get round this.

    • Drago says:

      I got a ticket for Novembers Specials gig, I thought the €50 fee was extortionate in itself there is no way I’d be paying any more. Thankfully my music tastes aren’t dictated by the NME or MTV and most of the bands I want to see play at small venues where you pay on the door and can actually see the band.
      But this article has given me the idea of becoming an online tout and ripping off the sheep who want to go see stadium rock acts. Thanks for that :)

    • Dave says:

      It is illegal, so eBay should crack down on it. After hurricane Katrina, a man from Kentucky bought a bunch of $1000 generators and went down to Louisiana to sell them for $3000 each. He went to jail and was stuck with a bunch of generators that he didn’t need. He deserved exactly what he got. As many ticket touts do. They buy 8 tickets, try to sell them for $500 when they paid $50 for them, then when no one buys them, they’re stuck with them. Waste of $400.