Professional Ticket Scalper Wants You To Take Him Seriously

No. You need a job.
No. You need a job.

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…

8 thoughts on “Professional Ticket Scalper Wants You To Take Him Seriously”

  1. These guys will also point you in the direction of undercover cops if you refuse to sell your tickets to them. “You want face value for those?!? You’ll never get that from me…Maybe try that guy over there.” Go to “that” guy and he’s a Seattle Police Officer…

  2. Does he have a business license to sell those tickets? Does he pay taxes for the profit he makes on those tickets? NO and NO! Considering the economy in Seattle and Washington State there is money to be made on the revenue they are missing out on by not collecting a fee from each and every scalper. Sick Em!

  3. yeah, he’s the criminal and the Mariners are wonderful for adding gameday fees of $25 a ticket. You haven’t got a clue. Do some research before you spout such BULLSHIT! If you haven’t noticed there’s no such thing as a SCALPER at Mariners game these days. Nobody is selling tickets above face value because there is no demand. But you can typically buy tickets for less money from these guys than you can at the box office because of the M’s stupid gameday surcharge…

  4. yeah, he’s the criminal and the Mariners are wonderful for adding gameday fees of $25 a ticket. You haven’t got a clue. Do some research before you spout such BULLSHIT! If you haven’t noticed there’s no such thing as a SCALPER at Mariners game these days. Nobody is selling tickets above face value because there is no demand. But you can typically buy tickets for less money from these guys than you can at the box office because of the M’s stupid gameday surcharge…

  5. Jon, you sell the Grand Salami program, right? Let’s say someone comes and buys your entire stock of programs at face value. For the sake of argument, we’ll say you have $100 programs that you sell for $3 each (I don’t know exactly what they cost off-hand). All told, the purchase comes to $300.

    Let’s say that person then walks down the block with the programs they bought from you and resells them to unknowing fans for $5 a pop. They sell their entire stock and end up making $500 total, or basically a $200 markup from what they gave you for the programs.

    When you find out about this, you’re pissed. And intrigued. You’re upset that this guy duped you and resold your inventory for more than you currently sell it for. But at the same time you’re intrigued because you now realize that fans are willing to pay more for your product than you were originally charging. That convinces you to raise the price of your programs to $5 apiece.

    This is essentially what scalping does. It allows teams to raise prices on tickets based on the market activity around them. I see your argument about there not being tons of demand for tickets right now, and because of that many tickets are being sold via scalpers for lower than face value (but, in most cases, more than what the scalper paid for the ticket in the first place).

    But when the Mariners start winning again and selling out games in the process, the scalpers won’t go away. I’d venture a guess that there will be even more scalpers when times are good, as there were back around the early part of this decade. And with games being sold out and demand at an all-time high, scalpers will essentially be dictating the market value of tickets. Whatever price the scalpers set is the price that fans will be paying for their tickets, assuming they can’t get a ticket from the box office because the game is already sold out. What that will do is drive up the value of the tickets, and let the Mariners know that they can continue to raise prices on their tickets to compete with fair market value.

    So if you don’t want to see ticket prices go up, don’t encourage the scalpers. I realize this is something really big to wrap one’s head around – Hugh Millenesque, even – but I guarantee you that it’s a cycle that can only be interrupted when the scalpers are gone, whether times are good or bad.

  6. This blog post was obviously written by someone who knows does not know how to talk to scalpers. Rookie.

  7. Just put your tickets on Craigslist. That is the way to sell them. Don’t even have to leave the house.

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