Touting bad laws — 12 Comments

  1. The law of supply and demands operates rationally if supply is fairly available without interference. When ticket touters artificially reduce supply by buying up multiple units in order to make ticket availability rare, then prices go up from the nominal 70 euro to the outrageous 700 euro being demanded by the touts. Real lifelong fans (fan = short for fanatic enthusiast) have a choice to pay that 700 or miss the concert. I lived in China and saw how the national railway company dealt with train ticket touts. China Rail insisted that passengers produce ID (foreigners like myself produced passports) when booking travel tickets; then the ID or passport name and number were printed by the computer at the booking station onto the actual ticket. The ticket couldn’t be resold at an inflated price because every passenger had to show the ticket + ID-passport to the on-train ticket inspectors. If they didn’t match, you were off the train.

    • Invariably though, touting only really works if there are a limited number of tickets [I can’t work out how anyone could buy all railway tickets in advance?] for an event, such as a concert, a football match or similar.  It also only works if people are actually willing to pay the touts’ price.  Arguably you could say that all sales are in effect touting – the seller sets a price which may be unrealistically high and if the buyer is happy to pay then everyone is happy – so maybe the original concert ticket sellers are setting their price far too low?

      There are some things that are considered essential to life such as transport costs and health and I would agree that they should be protected [which in the main, they’re not] while other things are purely discretionary, such as entertainment which should rely on the free market without any recourse to petty laws.

    • Dear Ger

      I am surprised to learn that there is or was train ticket touting in China, but I guess that’s communism for you. The Indian solution is to pile the passengers on top and hang them off the sides.

      In Russia an internal passport is required for train journeys exceeding a certain distance, to be presented when booking, and when boarding. A normal commuting distance into London was OK, but London to Birmingham would require a passport. A passport is required when travelling by car. I guess there were checkpoints or something.

      I discovered this when a Russian friend was going back to Mother Russia and could not find her internal passport.

      “Can you not use your external passport?”

      “Yes, but I do not want people to know I have one.”

      “Why not?”


      This was about 15 years after communism fell and about 15 minutes before we had to depart for the airport.

      Thought this might be of interest.


    • The Irish price for the concert ticket is 70 euro. I could buy two lunches with wine for that., or 16 pints of Guinness.

  2. Dear Grandad

    Asking price by touts and actual price paid by punters are two different things – as for house prices. If a house sells to the first viewer the sellers were either extremely lucky or the house was seriously under priced.

    A tout will be asking a high price on the grounds that he can always be bid down. If he asks for too low a price, short of conducting an auction between punters, he won’t be bid up (“300 quid for a 70 quid ticket for U Also? Nah, that’s far too cheap. I’ll pay you 700 quid and that’s my final offer.”).

    A solution is to make a market in the tickets from the outset – let first time buyers bid for them, something which could easily be done with online sales.

    That way the avid fans will pay much of the premium to the organisers, not to the touts. If the touts think they can get 10 times base value, they will happily pay 2, 3 or 5 times base value.

    Secondary markets in event tickets are a good idea, because it allows people who cannot go due to changed circumstances to recoup their costs – or make a profit. The alternative is to pass them on to friends or acquaintances, or lose out completely.

    Event organisers are not likely to be keen to lose bums on seats, because extra revenue is generated from hospitality sales in the venue (“There you are, sir. One pint of Guinness. That’ll be 70 yuro.”).

    The real purpose of the exercise is to allow a few folks to be OUTRAGED and for politicians to gain a few column inches, utter sound bites and generally appear to be Doing Something™.

    Hope this helps.


    • A lot of this started during the Olympics when an Irish crowd were caught dealing tickets [apparently].  I’m not quite sure what it was all about but I know our Glorious Gubmint got involved which pissed me off mightily.  Why should I pay for some gubmint lackey to fly all the way to South America and back on something which should have nothing to do with him?

      That of course started the ball rolling and now everyone is out to get the touts, and [as you say] the chance to be OUTRAGED!

  3. I agree, it’s funny (very funny) that “scalpers” (touts by any other name) that haunt concerts have laws to ‘control’ them but the not so the professional scalpers, such as the pharmaceuticals you mentioned.  I once witnessed a lady, well into her 80s, bring a doctor’s prescription to the pharmacists counter only to find the medication she needed cost over $300 for a 30 day supply. I swear, if I had had $300 to spare I would have paid for it myself after looking at the expression on her face as she walked away without the medication she couldn’t afford.

    Maybe The Duck will actually do something useful and put a leash around big pharma’s aft neck–but I ain’t gonna hold my breath.

    • There have been a few cases here of people who badly needed treatment for life threatening shit.  The gubmint refused on the grounds that it was too expensive.  What they should have done is demand the treatment from the pharma company at a reasonable price.  Big Pharma is literally getting away with murder at times like that.  Is it coincidence that Big Pharma is a big employer in Ireland?

  4. re. DP above:  There was a lot of train ticket ‘scalping’ or touting in China during busy holiday periods until about 5 years ago, when with the help of computerised booking, China Rail decided to crack down on it real hard. During a three-week period of the annual lunar New Year spring festival it was customary for migrant workers and students to join long queues at central railway stations in Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing among several other cities that millions of unskilled workers and students migrate to. Then tickets were only put on sale maybe three weeks or less before the departure dates. Gangs of touts joined the queues and bought advance tickets in lots of four or five, saying the additional tickets were for relatives and children. This created shortages of advance tickets and the scalpers profited by selling to stranded migrants at inflated prices. (Some were caught red-handed by the traffic police, but thousands of other tickets were sold unobserved.) While on holiday in Shenzhen several years ago, before the computer booking system was introduced, I joined long queues at Shenzhen to try and buy a train ticket back to where I was based, but on two days in succession was turned away on reaching the counter. In desperation I bought a domestic airline ticket (expensive) and returned to base. During the Spring Festival nowadays the trains carry about 120 million passengers back and forth, the buses several million on medium and long journeys and the domestic airlines maybe a million during the 3-week period. Whether communist or capitalist, China has corruption wherever opportunities present themselves. I personally enjoyed long train journeys whenever I was able to get tickets, and had pleasant conversations with English-speaking passengers. Sorry for being long-worded.

    • Personally I think those ‘scalpers’ were showing a bit of enterprise!  They knew the market!  The rail companies should have employed them – problem sorted.

      Long worded is no problem whatsoever!

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