Singapore

While not illegal, ticket scalping is still immoral

Most music fans probably did not read the fine print on their concert tickets, where a line says they are "not transferable" and cannot be "resold" or "redistributed".

This could mean that many concertgoers, strictly speaking, often fall on the wrong side of this regulation, because they usually buy tickets for friends or family. Or they sell their tickets when they can no longer attend the events.

Of course, concert organisers and promoters seldom take action against these harmless practices. It is only when they sniff profiteering that they might clamp down on the perpetrators.

In recent years, there have been two instances here where concert organisers have voided tickets put up for resale.

Most recently, fans of British rock band Coldplay railed against the people who tried to resell tickets for the group's concert here next year on April 1 at astronomical prices.

This forced the concert organiser to void some tickets. But on international ticket marketplace Ticketbis, the tickets are still available for as much as $7,500 - about 25 times the price of the most expensive $298 tickets.

While previous reports on the issue quoted legal experts saying that reselling tickets is not against the law here, greedy scalpers who take advantage of dedicated fans are morally reprehensible in the eyes of music lovers like myself.

Ticket scalping is a grey area internationally. In the biggest music market in the world, the United States, it is not a federal offence, but it is illegal in some states.

If coercion is absent and no criminal tactics are employed, the resale of tickets involves willing sellers and willing buyers. Any protest against greedy scalpers and profiteering is merely moral outrage, and not cause for legal action.

There is no data available on how pervasive ticket scalpers are in the concert scene here, but industry sources say it is not prevalent and is the work of a few individuals out to make a quick buck.

But it is probably pointless to tell die-hard music fans about willing buyers and sellers when they are enraged over missing out on tickets.

Being passionate about a band is a special thing.

This is why, when their idols come to town, they feel entitled to a seat in the house. To have a scalper take away what they feel is rightfully theirs and to try to sell it back to them at an exorbitant price is to make a mockery of their dedication.

SOLUTION

One solution might be to adopt the practice of the organiser of Glastonbury, one of the world's largest and most-established music festivals.

To eradicate the scalping problem, the event's tickets are non-transferable and come with photo identification.

If one has paid for the ticket and cannot make it to the festival, he cannot sell or give it away, but he can get a refund. These tickets are then resold.

Having a system like that might add on to final ticket costs, but it is one excellent way to ensure that dedicated fans, not money-minded scalpers, get their hands on coveted tickets.

This is an edited version of an article in The Straits Times today

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