Bear with me, this is a long one! So much anger, so little time…
Convenience may be the mother of invention, but greed is the mother of all human evils. Over the years, ticket prices for live events have become astronomical. In the 1970s, concert tickets used to be under $10. Today they are in the hundreds, and that’s face value!
In the olden days, to purchase tickets, you would visit the venue’s box office during normal business hours, or on a Saturday. If you really, really wanted them, you’d camp out the night before. Eventually you could purchase tickets by phone using a credit card, or at remote locations, as well as the box office. A small fee per ticket or per order was charged for this convenience. Eventually the ticket mafia was formed and took over all phone ticket sales, as well as all the satellite locations. Yous got to use our machines now, capiche? On the East Coast, the first ticket mafia was Ticketron. Eventually the head of Ticketron was whacked and a bigger, even more evil ticket mafia came in and took over the country. That evil, unregulated cash whore was none other than TicketMaster.
Today, nearly all ticket transactions are done online through TicketMaster, who charges ever-increasing and ridiculous “convenience” charges. If you work for TicketMaster, that makes you a cash whore too. There is nothing redeeming about your company. Please quit. Perhaps you can move to Virginia or the Carolinas and grow tobacco, convincing yourself someone’s gonna do it, why not you?
And if convenience charges aren’t bad enough, ticket brokers and eBay entrepreneurs have now guaranteed that nearly every live event where tickets are sold electronically (concert, play, musical, opera, even sporting events except for maybe single-A minor league baseball) will be sold out within a matter of minutes, often seconds. Of course they are available online within an hour at ticket broker sites and eBay at fair market prices (twice the price or more), eventually quadruple or greater as the date of the event draws nearer.
Tickets have become commodities, and fans the traders (more like victims).
I believe in free enterprise, but not when it prices so many people out of the market. If you can afford $300 tickets, good for you. Most can’t. There has to be a way for people to purchase tickets to events at face value, without a phone bank, mainframe and staffers. Typing in obfuscated (look it up) words at TicketMaster’s site clearly isn’t working.
The only satisfaction I find from this nightmare is when a broker or eBay entrepreneur is stuck with overpriced tickets that they cannot sell and they take a big loss. Serves your greedy ass right. You’re not an entrepreneur or financial genius; you’re an extortionist.
So here’s an idea. My volunteer staffers and I will start booking all available appointments at the local open MRI facilities. When someone calls for an appointment, the receptionist can transfer the call to Medical Appointment Brokers (my new business venture). When we get the call, we’ll just screen on occupation, side businesses and the money-for-nothing factor. If you’re not a broker or eBay scalper, no worries. You get whatever is available for free (no convenience or facility charge). Otherwise, what do you need an MRI for? Concussion? Aneurysm? Tumor? Well, our pricing structure is based on how badly you need the appointment, and if you deserve to live.
Same idea for heart trouble. When MAB gets a demon-spawn ticket broker on the phone, the one-sided conversation would go something like this: “Heart trouble, huh? Boy, that could be serious. Well, as the receptionist told you, all available appointments have been taken, but I’d be happy to broker an appointment for you. For $150 you can see an intern… No, that’s a high school intern. He’s got his magnifying glass and Chemistry set. And he’s a mathlete! For $600, you can see a nurse. Registered?...um, sure [handgun owner maybe] For $1795 you can see a first-year resident. For $6800 you can see a cardiologist. Board certified? Yeah, that’ll be $12,765. Lab tests? Hold on. I was reading from the red book. Those are prices for standard services. That only includes a stethoscope and a tongue depressor, with a free prostate exam. If you want an EKG or X-Rays, you’re talking premium services. That’s the blue book. Hold on…”
You get the idea.
Remember the day when people would camp out all night and buy up to their eight-ticket limit? People would respect the line. You could make a food or beer run for your new comrades, and leave your lawnchair and sleeping bag in safe hands while strangers held your spot. I was OK with those days, because they were diehard fans buying for themselves and their friends. The most they would ask for is gas money or a sandwich. My friend Frank suggested box offices should hold some actual tickets that people have to purchase in person so it’s possible to get tickets at face value, just like the good old days, even if it’s the day before the event. This may work for a while, but I imagine the brokers will soon have runners (much like drug dealers do), scooping up all the on-site tickets.
The solution? Once again make it illegal (and I don’t know when it actually became legal) to scalp tickets in person, online or through the USPS. If it isn’t so easy for companies to legally scalp at enormous profits, maybe it will diminish. eBay has to fall back in line too. Once people are prevented from ripping other people off just because they got to the tickets first, we can go back to crushing TicketMaster and its ilk. You want to charge me $5 for the lot (not per ticket) for booking my tickets, fine. Anything else is bullshit.
I recently purchased two tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld in Baltimore as a present for my wife’s birthday. Face value, they were $75 each. Then another $15 each for convenience. I got the tickets by winning the fastest fingers contest at TicketMaster.com the second the tickets went on sale. The event was sold out in less than four minutes. I could have purchased four tickets, and knew I could sell the other two for at least double what I paid, probably higher. But I didn’t. Why not? It’s such a smart, entrepreneurial move. You know it’s a hot commodity, and will sell quickly, at a great inflated value on eBay. Why not? Because I have a soul and a conscience, and I’m not a hypocrite, at least in this one instance.