Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Karl Puschmann: $800 concert tickets - how do we stop these scalping scumbags?

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With Cure tickets on Trade Me for $500 and Flume's rising to $800, music fans must rise up as one, writes Karl Puschmann.
The Cure front man Robert Smith sings to a packed house at the Vector Arena Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson
The Cure front man Robert Smith sings to a packed house at the Vector Arena Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson

As a species we've come a long way. A millennium or two ago our ancestors wriggled out of the primordial soup and now here we are, Instagramming our breakfast and using our pocket computers to watch cat videos during our morning commute. What a time to be alive!

But despite the multitude of technological advances and breakthroughs that all help to get us through the day, when it comes to live music there's one gigantically heinous problem that we, as a species, are yet to overcome.

And I ain't talking about those annoying gits who spend the whole gig waving their bloody phone in front of your face making a cruddy video that they'll later share on social media but never ever watch. Nope, the real problem is, has been and, unless action is taken now, always will be ticket scalpers. Or, as I prefer to affectionately refer to them, scum.

These jerks snap up as many concert tickets as possible before turning around and reselling them to desperate fans at an obscene mark-up. It's an unscrupulous, crooked business and one that should have been stamped out aeons ago.

And I'm not just saying this because I have rotten luck when it comes to securing concert tickets.

Okay, maybe it is the reason I'm saying it. But I stand by the call. Profiteering out of people's desperation is a foul and mercenary way to make a buck. Even if our society provides many shameful examples and validation of the practice.

It's been suggested that reselling tickets to events - concerts, sports, whatever - should be made illegal. But that's hardly a feasible solution. Especially as we've got real problems to deal with. There are families living in cars, kids with no lunches, a wildly out-of-control housing market and the rebuild of a whole city to finish. Compared to this stuff, ticket scalping has to be a fairly low priority.

Which is why I don't think the Government should be involved in fixing it. They've got enough to pretend to be dealing with as it is.

Instead, to really tackle this thing we're going to need the help and support of our friends in big business. So yeah, we're pretty much screwed.

Maybe I'm too cynical. Oh, Ticketmaster! Oh, Trade Me! Will you heed my call? Will you help a brother out? Should I pen an open letter? Start an online petition? Form a Facebook group or trend a Twitter hashtag? Will any of this help? No? No.

The sad fact is, ticket firms don't seem to care. By the time the scalpers get their filthy hands on the tickets they've already taken their cut. And added as many BS fees as humanly possible. Their bottom line is plump and juicy and adding anti-scalping measures will undoubtedly cost them. So I'm gonna go out on a limb and suggest that the source is not terribly interested in becoming the solution.

That leaves the marketplace. But with a fat 7.9 per cent cut on every over-inflated sale I don't see Trade Me rushing out to curb the practice either. This all means we're gonna be spending most of our lives living in a scalpers' paradise. As a ticketless Cure fan I can only despair as ticket auctions on my watchlist rocket towards the $500 mark.

Australian musician Flume.
Australian musician Flume.

That's bad. But at least I'm not a fan of electronic producer Flume, whose tickets currently sit at an extortionate $800. Each. Madness.

Look, I understand that ticket scalping is a prime example of free market capitalism at work. I passed School Certificate economics with a healthy 67 per cent so I don't need to hear any blah blah about the laws of supply and demand.

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So, what's the answer then? Dunno. But Prince worked it out. At his recent gig measures were in place that prevented the scourge of scalping and ensured tickets went to fans, not shameless opportunists. Maybe it's as simple as ticket firms dialling back the maximum number of tickets a single person can buy. Currently you can snaffle up a whopping 10 at a time. Little wonder scalping's rampant. Maybe Trade Me could instigate a "face value only" reselling policy. But do you think they're gonna want to take such a big hit on revenue? Maybe it's up to us. By managing our fear of missing out and resisting the urge to splurge big bucks on their overpriced tickets we could burn the scalpers and leave them hanging.

Join me, friends, and let's work together for positive change! A great start would be to withdraw all your bids on those Cure auctions. I feel this will send a message to those dirty scalpers and I promise that I will try really hard not to swoop straight in there and nab any reasonably priced tickets that appear as a result.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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Karl Puschmann is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A pop culture junkie, Karl has spent his career writing about the important things in life; music, film, television, comics and video games. He was editor of a popular music rag for five years and has since written regularly for every local culture/arts/lifestyle magazine worth a damn. His recent expansion into travel writing has flung him far, far from the comfort of his couch and into that bewildering place known as the ‘outdoors’. He is also currently endeavouring to make sense of the world by reviewing it over at critikarlreviewstheworld.com

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