Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HB 76, Scalpers, and SmithsTix

Deseret News:

The 2010 Legislature, which convened Monday, will consider a proposed bill that targets overpriced tickets by limiting the amount scalpers and ticket brokers can charge.

If passed, the law may not eliminate the independent ticket business in Utah, but resellers say the restrictions would have a "very negative effect."

Under HB76, a person may not sell a ticket for more than the ticket's face value plus tax and a "service charge" not to exceed $10, or 15 percent of the price.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lynn Hemingway, D-Salt Lake City, said the proposal is a result of constituent complaints.

"I just want to keep prices down," he said. "It's important that families can afford to go to these events and not get ripped off."

In December, I attended a concert at a local venue. The advertised price of the tickets was $10, including taxes. However, buying four $10-face-value tickets at the venue box office cost me $48, due to a $2 "facility fee." Had I gone to the authorized ticket agent (SmithsTix), it would have cost me nearly $60 plus additional fees to either print my tickets at home or have them mailed to me.

I have a problem with this. However, this is not what seems to be what this bill targets. This bill appears to target the scalpers standing on the street before most sporting events and concerts.

However, Scalping, like many other things, runs on a system of supply and demand. When demand is high (say a Miley Cyrus concert or a Jazz/Lakers game), the scalpers make a profit (however, usually the base price of the tickets is so high, the scalpers on the street have a tough time making a profit). Yet, when the demand is low (say, a Salt Lake Bees or a Jazz/Kings game), The scalpers are selling tickets well below face value (I get a great deal as an employee at Bees games, but the price from a scalper is still better).

I have a real problem seeing the supply-and-demand Republicans get involved. However, this is an election year, so they'll ram this one through.


P.S. -- as always, the views expressed here are my own, and do not reflect the views of my employers.

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