måndag 24 december 2007

Ticket Touting

Ticket Tout, originally uploaded by Dave Hogg.

MPs are calling for action against ticket touts. But what has this to do with the government?

If touts can make a profit from tickets bought from the promoters of concerts and sports events, it indicates that the promoters are choosing to sell them for less than their market value. They obviously have some reason for this, probably because they prefer to sell off as many tickets as possible as soon as possible, leaving the touts to carry the risk of being left with unsold tickets. This sounds like a normal market mechanism working as markets should, to balance out supply and demand.

If it really is a problem, then the concert promoters could adopt various alternatives. They could simply auction all the tickets themselves. Or they could sell the tickets in the same way as as airlines sell their seats, making limited numbers of tickets available at low cost well in advance, and pushing up the prices as the time of the event approaches.

What about things like football matches where the tickets are available at concessionary prices to supporters and so on? All that is necessary to prevent the tickets being sold on is to make them valid only when used in conjunction with some kind of membership or other identity card, in the same way as Students' Railcards are.

Nobody is going to starve or be left living on the streets because they cannot get into a pop concert, and it is worrying that MPs see it as something they should be involved in. More worrying still is that their understanding of fundamental economics is so poor that they do not recognise it is the operation of simple market forces.

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