A Defence of Ticket Scalping

Imagine waking up tomorrow to receive the news that your absolute favourite band/singer/comedian will be performing a one-off intimate gig that has sold out over at ANU Bar tomorrow night. To make matters worse, all your best friends are attending but they totally forgot to mention it to you or buy you a ticket because they just assumed you would be attending, given that your entire upper torso pays homage to this band/singer/ comedian in the form of tattoos and painful piercings.

OK, maybe that scenario is a little far-fetched. But cut out the masochistic idolising and most of us have been in the situation where, for whatever reason, we’ve missed the boat and the chance of securing a ticket to that must-see show seems to have passed us by. With visions of aggressive “SOLD OUT” signage singeing the brain of optimism and inducing dreaded pangs of FOMO, suddenly the dedicatory posters on the wall appear more superfluous than ever.

That is, of course, before you realise that all is not lost. There are people you can call, friendly strangers you can seek. You have an out, you have a way in.

In a world obsessed with any and all forms of entertainment, scalpers truly are the unsung heroes of the modern world. Facilitating “experiences” as a risky venture served with a nervous smile, they provide a scarce and an invaluable good in a market of hoarders. Scalping is sharing’s younger cousin and selflessness’ middle name.

Scalping is no easy business and in the current economic environment. Unlike other failing businesses in Australia today, scalpers have managed to thrive without receiving a cent of government funding. Yet still these modern day Mother Teresas are under attack. Their crime: offering the disorganised, the inattentive, the wealthy, the lazy and those on dial-up an overpriced glimmer of hope.

A Senate inquiry has been looking into the scalping trade with Senator Nick Xenophon pushing to curb the practice after citing that he had an influx of complaints from One Direction fans who couldn’t get tickets to the concert and blamed scalpers who were selling inflated tickets only minutes later for over $1,000. Their argument is that scalpers take tickets away from those who actually want them and sell them back at an inflated and unfair price.

Emotively, like all debates about fairness, this sounds convincing. Yet in this instance it misses the mark as to how a market economy actually works. Tickets are, and should be, like any other everyday type of commodity that is subject to the whims of supply and demand. They shouldn’t be reserved for diehard fans (imagine trying to prove that) nor should tickets go to waste because somebody who couldn’t make it didn’t want to give away their ticket.

The absurdity that One Direction fans could seemingly force a Senator’s position on the issue says nothing new about the current state of Australian politics. Although what all those whinging One Direction fans threaten worst of all is scuttling an industry of last resort. They seek to take away the only lifeline you may have left.