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Should Websites That Resell Concert/Event Tickets Be Forced To Limit Price Markups?

Teaukura Moetaua, Getty Images

The last time you missed out on tickets to an event because it sold out before you had a chance to buy, what did you do?

Used to be you were out-of-luck.  That’s unless you went to the event and looked for some suspicious looking guys standing on the sidewalk by the venue.  Those guys might have the tickets you’re looking for…for the right price.

Today, it’s easy to get tickets to almost any event.  Just visit stubhub.com or another website that resells tickets.  You’ll find tickets, legally, but they’ll often be priced far over face value.  Some Michigan lawmakers don’t like the system.

Should there be limits on how much websites like StubHub can mark up tickets?

I’ve used StubHub a couple of times in the past.  Last year, I bought tickets to a sold-out Detroit Lions game.  They were a little over face value, which made me cringe a bit when pressing the “purchase” button, but the convenience of being able to get the tickets when I wanted made it worth it.  They even won the game.

State Representative Douglas Geiss wants to limit the amount that tickets can be marked up.  Mlive.com reports:

Geiss plans to introduce legislation to limit price markups to up to 10 percent more than face value and also require online resellers to publish the original price of the ticket.

“I looked on StubHub and I saw that there were a couple infield box tickets that normally run about $100 that were up for $1,000,” Geiss said. “That seemed a bit usurious.”

StubHub officials see it differently.  Here’s more from mlive.com:

StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman said Geiss seems well-intentioned, but that he’s misguided and misinformed.

About half of the concert, sports and other event tickets sold on the site go for less than face value, Lehrman said.

“What an open marketplace does, is it allows the market to decide what the true value of a ticket is,” he said. “We don’t put price caps on houses or cars or jewelry or anything else for that matter.”

A price cap would push more of the sales to the streets, where customers don’t have recourse for fraudulent tickets or other issues, Lehrman said.

I agree with StubHub’s spokesperson.  If we are going to limit the amount we can markup concert and event tickets, where does it stop?  Are we going to place limits on the price of popcorn at the movie theater?  What about buying and reselling collectible coins, art, and sports memorabilia?

I don’t like paying over face value for tickets and that’s why I’ve only done it a couple of times, but it’s nice to have the option available when there’s an event you want to attend.

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