Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Ticket touts

We have some odd ideas about ticket touts in this country. Yet again there is talk in the news of banning their activities. People say things like:

[we see] tickets block-booked by people whose sole aim is to sell on at a profit

But why should tickets be so special in this regard? I'm no economist, but surely they are a scarce commodity whose value will be affected by their scarcity? If there are enough people willing -- indeed, eager -- to pay a thousand pounds to watch Led Zeppelin play a concert, then surely that's a valid price for a ticket? Nobody makes a fuss about other rare items being sold at high prices. And here's an amazing secret: well-known shops like Sainsburys, Woolworths and M&S -- they all bulk-buy goods with the sole aim of selling them on at a profit! Lordy! Quick, to the barricades...

Don't get me wrong: I'm not in favour of what is really quite a grubby, squalid and exploitative trade, but let's please be consistent. Either people explain why concert tickets are qualitatively different from any other good traded in the marketplace -- company shares and houses, for example, which are routinely sold at prices bearing no relationship to their worth -- or they shut up and accept the fact we live in a country with a more-or-less laissaiz-faire approach to business. At least, until such time as we establish a Socialist people's empire (with me as its king)...


Anonymous said...

Yes . . . and no.

I'm 100% behind you on the issue of touts - it's the best example of supply & demand economics, with the punter acting as a perfect economic agent that I can think of. If people are daft enough to shell out a Grand to see Led Zep, then good luck to 'em. I'll get up the CD, and with the change buy a new set of wheels :) Sometimes the supply & demand works the other way around too, and you can also pick up some great bargains from touts on the day - like the time we got three front row seats for a Five Nations match in Paris, for little more than the price of a couple of beers.

But the supermarket comparison is different. With their control over the supply chain & producers, and their vast market shares, they scare the bejasus out of me. When the revolution comes, they'll definitely be amongst the first up against the wall.

Vive la Révolution mon frère!

Ian Walker said...

That's a good point about the supermarkets! I didn't really mean the comparison to be totally direct; rather, I was trying to suggest that it's odd for people to be all "SHOCK HORROR!" about touts running businesses to making a profit when in fact that's all any business does.

David said...

Hello Ian , Very interesting thoughts. Take a peek at my recent blog down memory lane about my own ticket touting in the early 1980's.

David Roberts