Change the tune already

He likes a bit of everything - except country music. Chris Schulz takes a one-eyed look at the entertainment industry.

Chris Schulz: I was once a dirty scalper

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Fans queue outside Auckland's Real Groovy for Big Day Out tickets in 2009.  Photo / Paul Estcourt
Fans queue outside Auckland's Real Groovy for Big Day Out tickets in 2009. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Okay, calm down. I know you've read the headline, yelled "you're no better than Trevor Mallard" and stretched out your fingers to prepare to flame me into oblivion.

So sit down, take a chill pill and read my full scalping story before I end up answering questions on Campbell Live.

Yes, I was once a dirty scalper.

The emphasis there is on the word 'once'. I only did it the one time, and was overcome with so much guilt that I refunded the purchaser's money and never even considered doing it again.

Here's what happened: A major rock act was coming to New Zealand - I won't spill too many details for fear of industry reprisals - and was performing in an Auckland venue far too small for them.

If Vector Arena had have been around, they probably could have filled it.

But they were playing in a place that holds around 2000 people. So, like the fanboy I am, I got excited, and a little nervous, and went online to buy tickets. They went on sale at 9am, but when I checked at 8.55am, they were already available. I bought one, entered my credit card details, hit submit, and got an error message.

So I called up the ticketing agency, explained the problem, and bought a ticket over the phone.

But when I went down to the venue to pick it up later that day, there were two tickets waiting for me. That first purchase had actually gone through.

I only needed the one. All of my friends already had tickets. So what did I do? I put it on TradeMe.

A week later, it had sold. For five times the purchase price. Two superfans engaged in a bidding war, both desperately trying to get their hands on the ticket. As a result, it sold for an unbelievably huge amount.

I have to admit that dollar signs flashed before my eyes. It would have been the easiest money I'd ever earned. A 500 per cent return? Just call me Donald Trump. But with better hair.

But I didn't take it. I couldn't. I figured that karma would nab me and next time I wanted to go to a show, I wouldn't be able to get tickets.

So I emailed the purchaser, told them the original purchase price plus postage would be fine and they could keep the rest of the money. To say they were stoked was an understatement.

As for the show? Epic. John Campbell was there too.

When people mention the word "scalper", you either think of the awesome New Zealand-based UK rapper (his new album is worth getting your hands on), or a sweaty dude sitting in a darkened basement surrounded by 18 monitors and stacks of tickets, grinning from ear-to-ear as he completes yet another auction at an inflated price to an innocent fan who just wants to see a band they like.

But here's the thing: If you've ever been unlucky enough to miss out on tickets to a show you want to go to, TradeMe is your only option. And many of the auctioners say much the same thing as I've said above - that they've bought too many tickets, and are just trying to offload them.

Are they genuine? Of course not. If they were, they'd put a buy now price on the auction. Or do what I did and sell it to a real fan for the normal price.

But I think most scalpers are probably like me but with less of a conscience - accidentally buying more tickets than they need, then on-selling them for a large profit because it's easy, anonymous money.

Stop doing it people. Or heed the words of my two-year-old son: "That's mean".

I mention this because on Wednesday I missed out on pre-sale tickets to Flight of the Conchords' Auckland Town Hall show. And I'm thinking tomorrow morning, when the general release goes on sale, could be just as much of a lottery.

Maybe karma has found its way to me after all.

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