Have you ever been to a sporting event of any kind and not been harassed by ticket scalpers? It doesn’t happen anymore. What with the crappy economy, the employment crunch, and the fact that lazy people simply don’t want to work, professional ticket scalping is at an all-time high.
Which is why one ticket scalper wants you to respect his profession for what it is: a profession. Sort of. Okay, not really. So it basically borders on panhandling, but whatever.
Anyways, this dude Will Anderson is one of those guys you see outside Mariners games with the laminated “I NEED TICKETS” sign. You know which sign I’m talking about. The one that screams, “I only need your tickets so I can resell them to a family for twice as much as I paid you for them.” That one.
It seems that Anderson has had a few scrapes with the law that were, according to Seattle’s legal code, unjust. In turn, he is suing the city of Seattle for infringing upon his constitutional rights. You can read about it here.
Here’s the thing about Anderson. Legally, he’s in the right. He’s performing a service that is upheld by the municipal law and he should not be subject to scrutiny by law enforcement agents because of that very fact. Based on those grounds alone, he has a right to file a lawsuit against the city.
That said, I hope he gets crushed in court.
Having been to a number of sporting events all around the city of Seattle, I’ve frequently come in contact with the lowlifes that consider themselves “professional scalpers.” At their very best, these guys are nuisances. They holler at you for tickets, ask if you want to buy tickets, ask if you want to sell tickets, holler, holler, holler. They ride around on bicycles and ding-ding their bells, shouting and screaming about tickets as they go.
At their worst, they are borderline criminals. They fight with each other for territory (not unlike prostitutes on a street corner) and endanger innocent bystanders who wish only to go to a game. They confront and display aggressive behavior towards the general public, often saying inappropriate things and disrupting the general feel-good vibe that you’d expect at a sporting event.
On top of all that, their actions as middle men indirectly raise ticket prices and create an unfair market for ticket sales to exist in.
Think of it this way. Let’s say you buy a ticket for $50 and then realize you can’t use it. So you take it down to the game and attempt to sell that ticket for face value. Only you can’t find a buyer willing to actually use that ticket (since they are detained by all the scalpers beforehand) and are instead forced to sell your ticket to a scalper for a mere $20. The scalper, then, turns around and sells your ticket to an eager buyer for $75 shortly before game time.
By including the scalpers as middle men in our negotiations, we’ve added a third party that essentially drives up the value of the ticket. Had we used our ticket, only the face value (in this case $50) would have been spent on the actual seat tied to that stub.
Had we sold our ticket direct to a buyer intending to use it for admission, we would have received $50 for it, or face value, which is what we were seeking when we tried to sell the ticket in the first place. In total, that would have been $100 spent on a $50 seat.
But by adding the middle man, the scalper, we added an extra $45 to that $100 value, $20 for our selling the ticket to him, and another $25 which he was able to get out of the eager buyer. That means $145 ended up being spent on a $50 seat. With supply being low and demand being that high, this essentially drives up the price of tickets for all buyers, and we have scalpers to blame.
So maybe we should sue you, Will Anderson, for driving up our cost of admission to the sporting events we all love to attend. We could get Hugh Millen to do our research and see how much you owe us.
And you call yourself a businessman…