Scalping Of Concert Tickets Has Gotten Out Of Hand & Needs To Stop
EDITOR’S NOTE: The prices listed in this article are subject to change and are accurate as of the time of writing.
Die-hard fans will usually go the distance for their beloved artists — scrimping and saving whatever money they have to support their idols.
Unfortunately, there are people who see this fanaticism as a business opportunity and milk it for all that it’s worth. Scalping of tickets isn’t new to Singapore, although the ‘business’ has proliferated with the emergence and popularity of third-party websites like Carousell.
Scalpers are getting bold on these websites, with some selling the much sought-after Taylor Swift tickets for as much as S$28,888.
While many are aware that scalpers exist, not much is being done to control their presence online.
Granted, fans have the ultimate prerogative as buyers, but more can be done to protect their interests.
Resellers profit from scalping tickets at fans’ expense
Those who have bought tickets before will know the anxiety in the moments leading up to it.
You’re camped at the desk, eyes flicking to the clock every few seconds as you try to beat thousands of others to the chase.
For music artists with huge international followings, tickets almost always sell out within a few hours, or even minutes.
That said, not all who purchase these tickets are true fans — some do it just to make a profit.
We call these opportunistic individuals ‘scalpers’, people who buy tickets for the sole purpose of selling them at a higher price.
Scalpers resell Taylor Swift VIP tickets for tens of thousands
Most recently, one Carousell seller has listed a pair of VIP Taylor Swift concert tickets for S$28,888 on the platform.
They listed the tickets yesterday (6 July), a day before general sales for the concert commenced in Singapore.
This seller was not the only one to offer VIP tickets at the five-digit mark.
Another Carousell account listed the VIP tickets at a staggering S$15,800 a pop.
According to the seller, they had four such tickets on hand — which brings their revenue to S$63,200 if they manage to let go of all the tickets.
This particular seller will allegedly have a “third-party Singapore lawyer” to oversee the transaction.
Apparently, this is to make sure that the tickets are “legit and valid upon payment”.
They then elaborated that “this is to protect the buyer and seller from scammers and fake tickets”.
One more Carousell user is selling another VIP ticket for S$15,000, non-negotiable.
In the description of the listing, they broke down the transaction process — assuring that they “will go in with you” to the concert venue.
If “anything [goes] wrong with admission on the day, worst case immediate full refund of the tickets,” they said.
Previously, scalpers were also reselling Blackpink concert tickets for up to S$3,500.
The staggering amount is 10 times more than the original ticket prices.
While this is an extreme example, some Carousell users have successfully sold multiple Blackpink tickets in the thousand-dollar ballpark.
As such, these individuals can reap a handsome profit when a desperate fan buys into their scheme.
Fans should refrain from giving business to scalpers
However, fans seem to accept the harsh reality of marked-up tickets — some even leave raving reviews for the said scalpers.
That said, not all of us can drop a casual S$1,000.
While these scalpers are preying on fans who have the means to spend excessively, they’re also depriving less-fortunate fans of an experience they initially had a fair chance to have.
For every scalper that buys multiple tickets for profit, many other fans suffer from their greed.
Ticket scalpers operate within the law
While ticket scalping is inherently unfair, it’s not illegal in Singapore. According to Singapore Legal Advice, there will also likely be no moves to ban it.
Ultimately, sellers can price tickets any way they want so long as both parties are agreeable. As such, it’s difficult to pass any form of legislation to prevent ticket scalping.
So you may ask, what exactly can we do?
Firstly, the fans who are acting as the buyers have full control over whether or not they decide to support third-party sellers.
Since the advent of scalping, event organisers have also released warnings about the validity of resale tickets.
In some cases, tickets bought from unauthorised sellers — like scalpers — turn out to be invalid, and buyers can’t get refunds for their purchases.
When that happens, they end up losing two very precious things — their golden opportunity to catch a concert, and their money.
In a statement to MS News, Live Nation said that concertgoers run the “inherent risk” of purchasing invalid tickets from unauthorised third parties.
According to the live event organiser, there have been some recorded cases of falsified or duplicated tickets.
Meanwhile, third-party platforms like Carousell should conduct internal checks and report users who scalp tickets on their site.
Once it becomes a lose-lose situation for both scalpers and buyers, things could possibly take a turn for the better.
As for concert organisers and official sellers, one way to deter scalpers could be to personalise purchased tickets by printing buyers’ names on them. The tickets can then be checked against their ID to grant them entry to the venue.
Additionally, official sites can limit users to one account, pegging this to their ID or passport numbers, so they can’t crowd the link to increase their chances of scoring more tickets.
A Malaysian who bought tickets for Coldplay’s concert in Taiwan claimed that organisers there already have these measures in place, so there’s no reason why those in Singapore can’t emulate them.
My experience of getting Coldplay tix for KL vs Kaohsiung (Taiwan):
The Taiwanese ticketing system was so efficient I was shocked. Managed to secure tix within a minute and by the time I was done I was still in line for KL even though KL sale opened two hours earlier!
— AinaS (@AinaSalleh) May 18, 2023
Safety measures already exist in Singapore to protect fans
As it turns out, some measures already exist to protect true fans from scalpers in Singapore.
Live Nation also shared with MS News that its ticketing agency, Ticketmaster, has “several tools that combat scalping” and that the company “invests millions in BOT-fighting technologies”.
It lists five approaches such as “Over the Ticket Limit” (OTL) and account verification, CAPTCHA security checks, and Web Application Firewall to detect and block bots.
That said, Live Nation acknowledges that some scalpers may even hire staff to bulk buy tickets.
However, they continue to “monitor abnormal orders” and block suspicious buyers through their Deny List Management.
Intervention from authorities needed to stop scalping of tickets
Between getting buyers to stop purchasing from resellers and the authorities regulating them, the latter may have a more significant impact.
A recent example would be the Salon One case, where the company and its entities engaged in unfair practices for nearly five years.
Throughout that time, they allegedly exploited customers by falsely representing discounts and making unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of their treatments.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) apparently received over 130 complaints about the company, even after its Voluntary Compliance Agreement in October 2019.
It wasn’t until the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) launched a probe in July 2021 that Salon One promise to take necessary measures.
CCCS issued them a warning, and will initiate further investigations if any of the entities breach the undertaking.
Scalping of concert tickets unfair to fans
The above example proves that the authorities can act in the interest of consumers, to protect their safety.
If they can do so to deter unfair market practices like dishonest offers, surely they can intervene to stop resellers who hike up prices too.
Concert tickets are generally priced fairly to make sure that fans from all segments of society can enjoy the experience. What ticket scalpers do is take this opportunity away from honest fans.
Fans with more spending power may not see the markup as an issue. However, those who are not as fortunate might not be able to say the same.
Hopefully, the authorities can step up regulations to protect consumers and keep the market fair for all.
Note: The views expressed within this article are the author’s own.
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