Monday, April 07, 2003

ON SCALPING: Shawndra was reading my entries last night, over my shoulder (dammit, if my own wife won't log on and boost the hit rate, who can I rely on?) and she disagrees with me on my shrug over the flogging of tickets to Glastonbury on Ebay (a topic also considered by today's New Media Guardian - although as of noon, it wasn't up on the site yet). "You don't think there's anything wrong in someone soaking up all the tickets and scalping the fans, then?" she asked.
And if we were talking about Radiohead, say, and talking about people buying up hundreds of tickets at a time, I'd probably have had outraged posts up before the first ticket had appeared on Ebay. But since Glastonbury doesn't have 'fans' in quite the same way, and since - I'd imagine - Aloud had capped the number of tickets a person could purchase (if they hadn't then all the whining about auction sales is just so much alligator blubbing), I don't think the case is the same. If Glastonbury had wanted to ensure people with a deep commitment to the festival, but only shallow pockets, could have gone, they could have come up with a slightly less clumsy way of selling tickets than lobbing them straight up on a single website - as we said with the Radiohead affair, we'd really like to see tickets like this offered not on a "fastest modem first" basis, but in a genuine lottery. Indeed, as Glastonbury is supposed to be about raising money for charity, they could actually ask people to pitch up a quid to take part, and then choose the 'winners' of the right to buy tickets at random after, say, a week of taking registrations.
Failing that, why not bypass the touts completely, and actually sell the tickets straight through Ebay in the first place? Half the tranche could be offered on a "Buy this now" basis; the other half could be allowed to float. You could even set different lengths of auctions, so people who desperately want to know they could go would pay a small premium, while people who are more flexible could wait until the week before to find out if they'd won. People who want to pay more would still pay more, but at least the benefit would go to Glastonbury, and all the mark-up again could go to the good causes.
But maybe that's just a little too sensible. Far better to create a situation where touts are able to prosper, innit?

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