Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ticket Scalper Sues To Allow Willing Buyers and Sellers to Engage in Voluntary Transactions

SEATTLE TIMES -- When the Seattle Mariners play at Safeco Field, Will Anderson (pictured above) can often be found selling tickets on the corner of First Avenue South and Edgar Martinez Way. Anderson, a 40-year-old portrait photographer who sells tickets for extra money, says he conducts business on private property not owned by the Mariners. Even so, he says his tickets have been seized and that he has been repeatedly cited by off-duty officers for selling tickets in a no-vending zone or for selling without a permit, which the city has refused to issue him.

"I sell tickets where it's legal to sell tickets," said Anderson, a father of two. "This most definitely impacts my life — you invest your money in something, and somebody keeps taking your investment away and making you start over." Anderson recently filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the city, the Mariners and several off-duty police officers violated his constitutional rights through unreasonable searches and seizures. The suit also accuses police of selective enforcement by targeting scalpers like Anderson "in order to reduce or eliminate ticket sales competition with the Mariners."

"This law is supposed to be enforced by the (Seattle) Department of Transportation, not the police and certainly not police officers getting paid by a private entity," Ford said. "To me, this is a case of a big corporation using police to put its competition out of business."

MP: If ticket scalping is a "crime," who is the victim? Seems to me like a voluntary transaction between a willing buyer and a willing seller....

Thanks to Zach Slaton.


At 10/13/2009 10:05 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"If ticket scalping is a "crime," who is the victim?"...

Why the people who issued the ticket of course...

They're just mad because they didn't charge enough out of the gate...:-)

At 10/13/2009 10:20 AM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

My wife and I were forced to plead to felonies by the "South Carolina Resort Rental Cartel". The power of government over individuals can indeed be oppressive.

Obviously, the Mariners are using their influence over government to protect their revenue.

At 10/13/2009 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Anderson should organize his fellow ticket scalpers and form a union because one person has no power over a big corporation :) The logical opposite of organized is not organized. Ultimately, power comes either through money or numbers.

The same people who recognize problems often cannot see the solution even when it is obvious because they have closed minds and too much hatred. Does anyone really believe Mr. Anderson stands a snowball chance in hell of tackling this problem by himself?

At 10/13/2009 10:37 AM, Anonymous Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

I've had to opportunity to visit a number of sports parks around the country. Since I didn't have tickets, I had to buy from scalpers. What I found in my experience is that the states with no scalping laws, the tickets were cheaper from the scalpers. For states witth tough scalping laws, it was more difficult to find the tickets and I had to pay more for them. Ticket scalping laws DO NOT protect consumers.

At 10/13/2009 11:11 AM, Anonymous Shayla said...

The people buying the tickets are the ones being scalped. The ballparks could care less because they sell tickets and scalpers take the risk of not selling.

But the people who MUST buy from scalpers because all the good seats were scarfed up by people with no intention to watch the game are the ones hurt. The scalpers are leveraging the low value of their time to get tickets first.

And then there are the scam scalpers who sell worthless counterfeit tickets. We also don't need these scumbags walking around the stadium. They're low lives.

The only redeeming quality of scalpers is resale of tickets people can't use.

At 10/13/2009 11:22 AM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

Junkyard is dead on target. In the SC case, local resort property owners elect legislators who elect judges and pass difficult laws. People from other states become the marks. They are sold beach properties only to discover that locals keep 50 to 8% of all rental income. Before long, the outsiders are forced take a capital loss on the sale of the property and the process starts over. Tickets at sports stadiums and vacations at the beach are different products, but both are using the law to maintain a monopoly. The monopoly wins, the public loses.

At 10/13/2009 11:55 AM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

Perhaps the libertarian Institute for Justice might take his case. They have done great work successfully defending small businesses and property owners against absurd government regulation licensing and corrupt eminent domain abuses -- overturning such statutes and practices across the land.

At 10/13/2009 11:58 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

I actually bought tickets from this guy last year to see the Mariners play the Cleveland Indians. Both teams were not very good but my buddy from out of town wanted to go to big league game. We arrived early and were milling around when we noticed this guy with tickets in hand. We paid $26.00 dollars a ticket for excellent box seats with a retail price of $54.00 a piece. This guy is a market maker and what's wrong with that?

BTW he was a very cordial, engaging and straight forward; right in front of the main entrance to Safeco Field.

At 10/13/2009 12:26 PM, Blogger Richard Rider, Chair, San Diego Tax Fighters said...

A major reason there are counterfeit event tickets is that in many jurisdictions you cannot buy from a legal resale ticket vendor. Hence such "scalper" ticket transactions are "back alley" dealing -- parallel to illegal drug purchases -- you have no legal recourse if the drug/ticket is other than promised, and face an untraceable vendor.

At 10/13/2009 1:33 PM, Anonymous Benny Tel It LIke It Is Man said...

Another interesting issue--should a "business" be allowed to use city sidewalks to conduct business?
Well, then why not food carts and stands? Clothing vendors? CD resellers? Jewelery?
In Los Angele, I find the best food is from streetside stands, usually semi-legally operated. They have outdoor BBQ's. In Thailand, the best food is always on the street.
Still, such businesses pay no taxes, and if everybody gets into the act, soon you will not be able to walk down the sreet without watches, food, clothes, cigarettes etc all being aggressively hawkewd at you. And if you buy counterfeit goods, good luck.

At 10/13/2009 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Banning ticket scalping is just another way of reinforcing resale price maintenance. The beneficiaries are the teams and promoters of the event. By being able to maintain a high reference price, and support it by prohibiting resale at a lower price under circumstances where the seller doesn't need the ticket, the practice stabilizes prices and leads to season ticket sales with empty seats in the stadium.

Markets work, but in this case, not for everyone. Consumer loses.

Look for less, not more, scalping in the future when tickets are virtual and non-assignable. You are given a code and will have to show ID to enter. Maybe the event planner will allow you to bank or resell to the event owner, but look at being a discount to what you paid for it, with the event owner having the right to resell.


At 10/13/2009 1:47 PM, Blogger Paradigm Shifter said...

Thanks to Mark for the HT. For some interesting polling data on the topic of ticket prices, see my latest blog entry at http://uncommoncentsblog.blogspot.com/2009/10/no-shortage-of-buyers.html

At 10/13/2009 3:23 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

Hopefully he loses. Willingness does not exist in such a captive market.

The victim is the person who can't find a ticket since the scalpers bought them up faster than any human could by normal and expected means.

The better thing would be to go virtual and increase the binding between a person and their ticket.

At 10/13/2009 3:25 PM, Anonymous TwinBeam said...

If it were a private business I'd have no problem with tickets being non-transferable contracts, and them using the law to enforce their contractual rights. Though I'm not sure why they would bother, since they could simply charge at a rate to maximize profits, and not worry about ticket re-sale.

Since the city/stadium isn't likely to give up it's monopoly control, it should at least solve the "empty seat" issue (empty seats while tickets are being scalped at high prices) by selling cheap "stand-by" tickets: If there's an empty seat you get it. If not, you get a seat in a pleasant room with a big screen TV.

At 10/13/2009 3:51 PM, Blogger Jack Miller said...

Benny, You totally miss the point. The current system of making what should be a legal act illegal is the very reason no taxes are paid and that there is a back ally nature to them. This is no different than trying to prohibit the sale of booze, or marijuana for that matter. Silly laws turn honest, hard working people into criminals.

At 10/13/2009 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WaltG...notice that it is not the corporation that has the power, it is the government.

Without gov't interference, this dude could conduct his business peacefully.

At 10/13/2009 4:53 PM, Anonymous Benny said...

Yes, I agree people should be allowed to scalp. My question is: Should this guy be allowed to scalp, while standing on city sidewalks?
If yes, then is the door open to anyone who wants to conduct a business on city sidewalks--such as watch vendors, food carts, clothes vendors,ticket sellers of all stripes, even prostitutes or drug dealers?
It is a very tricky issue, if you wish to define the issue on principles.
Give me an answer, but based on principles, not just what you want to happen.
BTW: I think this is one where most libertarians will step back and say, "Well, I am a libertarian but...I do not want a lot of drug dealers and gimcrackery merchants flooding the sidewalks outside my home. I would like to walk down the street without seeing porno CD-vendors loudly hawking their wares on my evening stroll."

But I tell you, the illegal streetside chicken vendors in L.A. sell the best pollo by far.

At 10/13/2009 4:53 PM, Anonymous Arrested Development said...

Scalpers are scumbags. That's more than enough reason to harrass and arrest them. Their demeanor is threatening and their dealings shady. Stop portraying them as honest people trying to make "a living". No one "needs" the services they provide.

It's like the bums who wash windshields on corners, offer to carry your bags at airports, or point out empty parking spots you already see and they are standing in. It's unnecessary, annoying, and intimidating. If they sat quietly at a booth, that would be one thing. But they walk round like predators in search of prey.

If you could make it legal, safe, and on the level I'd be for it. Frankly I don't know why stadiums don't bother with Priceline type auctions. An empty seat is a waste. They should be giving food coupons to the bleachers. They could also have an online resale booth where people who can't use their tickets turn them in for a refund and the stadium reissues the seats at a discount.

At 10/13/2009 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:52: There's really no such entity as "government," "union," or "corporation." It's just people who exert their power through money or numbers. If money is power, one person with 1 million dollars equals 1 million people with one dollar.

Blaming "governments," "unions," or "corporations" for our problems is just a coping mechanism people use to keep from blaming themselves for either not understanding the problem or being unable or unwilling to solve the problem.

At 10/13/2009 5:18 PM, Blogger Michael Smith said...

sethstorm wrote:

The victim is the person who can't find a ticket since the scalpers bought them up faster than any human could by normal and expected means.


In the first place, the millions of people who DO buy tickets -- and not from scalpers -- gives the lie to your preposterous claim that "no normal human by expected means" can get a ticket. What planet do you live on?

More importantly, no one in this situation, including the scalper, has initiated the use of force or fraud against you -- no one has taken or damaged any of your property -- no one has physically damaged your person or property in any way. You are no more a "victim" in this situation than is a man who is outbid at an auction by someone with more money.

Nothing on earth justifies the notion that government should initiate the use of physical force against those who purchase tickets for resale. Only the seller of the tickets has any right to dictate who may or may not buy them -- the government has no rights in the matter whatsoever.

At 10/13/2009 5:33 PM, Blogger Michael Smith said...

Walt G wrote:

There's really no such entity as "government," "union," or "corporation." It's just people who exert their power through money or numbers.

The notion that corporations have the same power as government is completely false. Economic power and political power are NOT the same.

A business corporation has a single power: the power to offer a value in exchange for some other value, such as offering a product for sale or offering a wage in exchange for a person's labor. Business, on its own, has no power to compel anyone to accept such an offer. Business has no power to force anyone to do anything.

Government, by contrast, is the agency that has a monopoly on the legal use of physical force and CAN compel people to do what it wants or face fine/imprisonment.

Now, it is true that business corporations can lobby the government and get laws passed which damage others, especially their competitors. But this is possible only because we have a highly regulated, "mixed economy" wherein government has arrogated to itself the power to dispense all manner of economic favors in the form of rules, controls, regulations, bailouts, etc. But even here, this is GOVERNMENT doing this -- no private business has the power to do it by itself.

The solution is to eliminate government's power to regulate economic activity -- to switch to full, unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism. That will make business's efforts at lobbying completely futile and force everyone to stand on their own competence -- which is why the left hates the idea.

At 10/13/2009 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael Smith: Money = Power. What is this government thing you are talking about? Could you send me a picture of it please?

I did not mean to imply all those agencies were the same thing--just that they are all made of people who should be held accountable for their actions. In addition, we, the people, are empowering them through our unwillingness to get involved or check their power. We will have too many people watching Dancing with the Stars tonight instead of writing their congressmen about their ideas or running for office. It’s much too easy to blame others for all of our problems.

At 10/13/2009 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding scalpers: no one is forcing people to buy tickets. If you don't like the price, don't see the {concert, game, show}.

My favorite thing is to wait until about five minutes into the event and then offer the scalpers half-price (or less).

At 10/13/2009 10:39 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

I have always assumed that it is against the law and am surprised when I see so many selling tickets on the way to the Buckeyes games.

At 10/14/2009 3:57 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

I dont see your point. For your neighborhood to have people selling prostitutes and porn you would have to live in a gigantic neighborhood with a high demand for these activities.

My neighborhood street of 10 houses would hardly support a prostitute unless everyman on the street was buying, and if that was the case then no one would mind.

Ticket scalpers also will not be "in your neighborhood" because thats not where the demand is.

Its amazing how free-markets work themselves out with simple supply and demand.

At 10/14/2009 4:01 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Also Arrested Development, you proved your own point wrong. Its true that in your system of priceline type options there would be no need for a scalper. That would be totally awesome. But right now stadiums/concerts/etc rely on the old-school way of making arbitrary prices for their tickets. As long as this is the case and demand exceeds supply at the given price, then you need scalpers to act as middle men.

Same analogy could be given to things like Picaso paintings. Would it make sense to sell them all for $20 and let the first guy in line buy them, or does it make sense to charge the price they are actually worth through auctions?

At 10/14/2009 4:04 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

or sorry a better analogy would be the people that resold Wiis on ebay and made $$.

Do you find these people despicable?


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