Live concerts and games can deliver a few hours of enjoyment by providing a temporary break and a chance to escape the stresses of everyday life.  While the availability of tickets and ticket prices are important factors to having the opportunity to enjoy these moments, scalpers and scammers can sour these moments by setting prices at obscene levels or ripping off fans with forged tickets.   

Reports of counterfeit tickets and inflated prices in the news seem to be popping up everywhere.  Fake tickets were sold at the Adele concert in Washington, D.C., Kid Rock in Detroit, and tickets to Billy Elliott in Denver were resold at close to triple their face value on a website masquerading as the theatre’s website.  It’s also happening with professional basketball and football tickets.  As scalpers become more advanced and aggressive in their efforts to gobble up the most desirable tickets to the most desirable events, they succeed in making fans pay higher prices. 

Artists and sports teams have a vested interest in protecting their customers and fans and many are outraged by the artificially inflated prices and forgeries that dissuade attendance and weaken fan loyalty.  The use of “will call” and “paperless ticketing” are two ways to reduce fraud and guarantee access to events at a fair price.  The “will call” system is a familiar one that requires the buyer to pick up the pre-purchased tickets at the box office with ID and the credit card which the tickets were purchased.  The less common paperless method requires one to present the credit card used to purchase the ticket in order to validate the legitimacy of the sale and the seats.  Both of these methods allow fans to avoid paying a scalper’s premium and it greatly reduces the chance of forgery and fraud.  As an extra benefit to consumers, the paperless method prevents technology savvy scalpers from purchasing huge quantities of tickets for an event.

Whether by will call or paperless, a form of identification or the credit card is used for the purchase and the ticket may be “nontransferable.”  Restrictions like this are common elsewhere, such as with airline tickets and products marked “not for resale.”

Fans deserve to be able to see their favorite acts at a fair price.  Paperless tickets and the “will call” systems are options for artists, teams, and venues that strive to ensure fans have the best opportunity to get premium seats at the face value of the ticket.  But when it comes to concert tickets the people who seem to have a problem with these methods are less concerned about fans’ enjoyment and more about exploiting consumers’ and fans’ wallets, particularly in these tough economic times.

Alan Daley is a retired businessman living in Florida.  He follows public policy issues from the consumer’s perspective