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Are Ticket Scalpers Really All That Bad?

Updated on May 9, 2011

Have you ever bought tickets from a scalper?

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A Risk

If you go to any popular event (theatre, sports, concert, etc.), someone is bound to approach you. They’ll tell you a story about how they bought too many tickets and would be willing to trade you their better tickets for yours plus an extra fee. Usually, they leave the story at home and simply tell you that they’d be willing to trade you their tickets for yours plus that darn extra fee. Let’s say though that you never had the chance (For example, tickets sold out before you could purchase a pair.) to buy tickets, but you really want to go. This is when the scalper (Someone who resells tickets to a public event, but isn’t associated with a ticketing firm or the arena itself.) is your new best friend.

You may or may not be surprised to find out that ticket scalping is not exactly legal. In Massachusetts (my state), I believe it’s still illegal, but not as closely watched as it once was. When I was younger, my parents always cautioned us not to ever buy from a scalper because they could be selling fake tickets or, even worse, be a cop in disguise who wants nothing more than to arrest you. Nowadays, scalpers seem to be more open about their dealings. As I’ve seen more than a few “ticket exchanges” in recent years, I’m pretty sure that as long as they keep their price around the price of the actual ticket, authorities turn the other way. I could be wrong though.

Reasons Why Ticket Scalping Would Be/Is Still Illegal:

  1. Years back, I heard of a lawsuit between Ticketmaster (an official ticket agency) and a company that manufactured a program that allowed scalpers to get around Ticketmaster’s online security measures. Using this program, scalpers could easily buy out the bulk of the tickets to the event in the first few minutes of them being on sale. As they were pretty much the only people with tickets, the public had to seek out scalpers for tickets. Ticketmaster saw this as unfair to the public. I would argue that Ticketmaster’s biggest motivation to sue though was their own welfare.
  2. Having the upper hand (They have tickets or, at least, better tickets than yours.), scalpers can make an enormous profit off of you. A ticket that, at face value, is only $50 can easily cost you $100 (and definitely more) if you’re desperate enough to go.
  3. Scalpers have been known to sell counterfeit tickets. Using a program that can duplicate tickets (or mimics the appearance of a real ticket), they can sell you a fake ticket and you won’t even know the difference until you get to the door. In recent years, scalpers have been collecting already scanned tickets (You go to the door. The ticket taker scans the ticket. You hand the ticket to your scalper friend who then sells the ticket to an unsuspecting person. The unsuspecting person gets to the doors and is told that the ticket has already been scanned.) and reselling those.

Personally, I think ticket scalping shouldn’t be illegal. Yes, it is a risk, but with computer glitches it can be just as risky buying from an official seller. Though it’s happened to me a few times over the years, I will never forget the first time it happened. I was very little and my parents had saved up to take my brothers, grandmother and I to see The Nutcracker. I was so excited. And then another family came to our row and started a fight with my parents. Even after we showed them our tickets, they still insisted that we were in the wrong seats. Once the manager was called, it quickly became apparent that the ticket office had accidentally sold the tickets twice. As it was a sold out show, six people would have to hang out in the back standing room area and six people would get to keep those seats. Being that my parents didn’t threaten to sue and throw a temper tantrum, guess who had to forfeit the seats? Since then, when the validity of my tickets comes into question, I never move. While it’s the venue’s fault and neither the other couple nor my guest and I should be put out, I’m not going to move from the seats I purchased just because the other couple is whining. If you’re mature enough to buy the tickets, you should be mature enough to deal with this unfortunate mistake.

Though I only used a scalper once, it was a truly positive experience. My middle brother had bought me tickets to a concert for my birthday. Being that it was only my second concert, we got there very early. As we approached the gate, we were stopped by a scalper. I guess he liked something about us because he turned our second to last row seats into some really amazing seats for only ten dollars extra. He easily could’ve made a hundred bucks on that deal. Instead, he took our ten and a bucket load of thanks. I am aware though that it could’ve gone horribly wrong. Yet, considering how badly buying legally can go too, it almost makes the risk worth it.

Yes, buying from a scalper is a definite risk. You could be duped out of your money either because you overpaid or because the tickets you’re holding aren’t worth the paper they’re made on. Also, your scalper could actually be a cop and you could end up spending the night in jail instead of at the show. Yet, overhearing a scalper talk to another couple about some awesome tickets for a low price, I always have to dig my nails into my palm to keep from going to him. Humans are programmed to always want more and better things. Knowing this, scalpers will never go out of style.


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    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      Glad I could help. Thanks for the comment! :o)

    • WeddingConsultant profile image

      WeddingConsultant 8 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Thanks for answering my hub request on ticket scalping! And thanks for educating me on the topic...I always wondered about it but you really cleared the air.

      I especially liked the "Reasons Why Ticket Scalping Would Be/Is Still Illegal" section.