Arkansas Doesn't Need Scalpers (Peter Lane Commentary)

by Peter Lane  on Monday, Mar. 25, 2013 12:00 am  

Peter B. Lane

Scalpers are bad for consumers, artists and the organizations that are in the business of presenting arts and entertainment in our state. We want to provide every patron a great experience, including allowing patrons to get a ticket at a reasonably advertised price.

Our citizens shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant prices for an entertainment or cultural experience.

Arts and entertainment venues add to the quality of life in our communities and it’s important that we always remain affordable to our patrons. Editor Gwen Moritz, in a recent column, suggests ticket prices should be higher to reflect demand, but she misses the long-term impact of high ticket prices. The venue, along with the artists, determines ticket prices for each performance based on market data. If our customers have access to a fair-priced ticket they are likely to remain fans and buy tickets to future shows. The relationship between our audiences and our organizations is critical. If customers have to pay three times the face value of a ticket to see their favorite artist, they may never come back to the venue and it can tarnish the reputation of the artist.

In addition, the editor suggests a ticket is a wholesale item to be bought and resold. The ticket is not an item that should be resold to the highest bidder; rather, it is a license that allows admission to a performance or show. We have an obligation to provide the best acts and to keep artists and audiences coming back. It is in no one’s interest to see audiences paying once-in-a-lifetime ticket prices — that practice is not sustainable.

The editor states that some people compare ticket scalpers to “payday loan sharks and gasoline gougers.” We would agree. Ticket scalpers largely prey on unsuspecting customers by abetting them in making ticket purchases that rob the artist and the producers of revenues and hurt other fans. Scalpers who deceive our customers are tough to find and track down and often operate in the shadows in other states or countries. We don’t need these same operators setting up shop in our state. Everyone will suffer if that is allowed.

Scalpers often use deceptive measures. There are plenty of scalpers outside Arkansas who are currently damaging Arkansas’ consumers and businesses by using a variety of tricks to fool ticket buyers, including:

  • Creating websites that look like the venue’s website and using misleading results in search engines — steering customers to fraudulent sites.
  • Listing tickets in sections that don’t exist.
  • Selling counterfeit tickets. Scalpers sell tickets that can be printed at home multiple times and the buyers don’t know until they show up at the venue. They are turned away because the real ticket has already been used.
  • Using sophisticated software programs called “bots.” These programs bypass loyal fans and disrupt online sales by scooping up the best seats to re-sell.

Scalpers are bad for business. Let’s be clear. The victim of scalping is most often the fan of a band, Broadway show or anyone else who is denied the opportunity to see an event by the unscrupulous actions of scalpers who purchase a ticket not to enjoy a show but to make it unaffordable for many. The cost to the organizations, the artists and our community is serious and can lead to the risk of losing acts and audience members.

Fortunately, the Arkansas House of Representatives saw that letting scalpers in our state was a bad idea and voted to continue the scalping ban. Scalpers will continue to attack this law with hope of lining their pockets. The entertainment venues of Arkansas will work to protect this law so our patrons can enjoy shows at an affordable price.

Peter B. Lane is president and CEO of the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville. Email him at PLane@WaltonArtsCenter.org.

 

 

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