Should Legislation Protect Consumers or Cons and Ticket Scalpers?
Everyone knows someone that has gone to a concert or a sporting event, having paid far beyond the ticket’s face value. Many of us have also heard the horror stories of a fan going to concert only to find someone else sitting in their seat – the victims of a counterfeit tickets.
Scalping has become big business, fueled in part by technology, relaxed limits on how much tickets could be sold above face value, and a legitimized resale industry that has enabled the sale of overpriced tickets and even counterfeit tickets. In Florida, we have a thriving secondary ticket market, where scalpers prosper and some fans are getting ripped off. Some scalpers are very sophisticated in buying up large blocks of tickets in order to create ticket shortages, which drives up consumer prices. Preserving the ability of consumers and fans to access reasonably-priced tickets begins by keeping tickets out of the reach of scalpers.
Fortunately, solutions already exist – ID check at Will Call and paperless ticketing. Both are easy, simple and scalper-proof. Paperless tickets allow consumers to avoid the Will Call line, buy tickets online, show up at the venue, swipe or show their credit card and in they go to the event. Both methods benefit consumers with reasonably-priced tickets, and ensure that they pay only the price set by the artist, team, venue, and promoter. Will Call and paperless tickets gives consumers options to avoid paying scalper prices, and gives artists and performers a way to protect their image and their fans from price gouging. But proposed legislation, Florida House Bill 225 and Senate Bill 392, would ban paperless ticketing and possibly Will Call, thereby protecting scalpers and enabling the resale of overpriced and, in some cases, counterfeit tickets.
Who could possibly oppose Will Call and paperless ticketing? Well, it’s the online resale marketplaces that make a lot of money from reselling “paper” tickets – including StubHub. Some of these advocates are using the legislative process to carve out a new entitlement for an industry that not long ago was regulated to dark alleys and stadium parking lots. What ever happened to giving consumers choice?
The ticket resale market is here to stay, however Florida should not provide additional protection to scalpers and counterfeiters that prey on fans and profit quite handsomely at the consumer’s expense. Legislators should leave Will Call and paperless ticketing alone, and let the marketplace and commerce between venues, artists and consumers flourish.
Steve Pociask is president of the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit educational and research institute.
Printed in the Tallahassee Democrat on December 3, 2011, available at http://www.tallahassee.com/article/20111203/OPINION05/112030305/Protect-consumers-scalpers-