The decision announced by Ticketmaster yesterday to close its ticket resale operation is welcome — but only if it delivers the long-sought opportunity for consumers to buy or resell tickets to various events at face value. Punters have, for years, been asked to play against a loaded dice in the race to secure tickets.
Premium event tickets were usually sold out within minutes of being offered, only to resurface hours later on resale sites but at greatly inflated prices. Touts demanded, and got, a premium for doing no more than cornering the market. That was capitalism in action in a most frustrating, but very rewarding way for those who secured tickets with the sole intention of reselling them at a profit.
This practice led to a Competition and Consumer Protection Commission investigation into ticket-touting in the Republic last year. The watchdog considered “suspected breaches of competition law”. Whether yesterday’s
announcement renders that investigation redundant is a moot point, as touts are unlikely to surrender this long-established and lucrative trade without a fight.
It is interesting, too, that this issue generated more public anger than tracker mortgages or banks’ 20-year tax breaks on profits. It is also interesting that a core value of our economy — buy for X but sell for X-plus — is to be overturned in this area, but not in, say, housing. Bread and circuses, indeed.