With bated breath, I waited to see if I could get past the virtual waiting room of the Singapore Sports Hub ticketing website. I eventually did, but alas, did not manage to purchase the tickets that I wanted. And in a matter of minutes, tickets to not one, but both of Ed Sheeran’s Divide World Tour shows in Singapore were sold out.
This was not the first time it has happened to me. Back in November, I was also unable to secure tickets to both Coldplay shows, and I was a bigger fan of the band.
My heart sank. Am I just unlucky?
Comments on the Ed Sheeran concert event page pointed to people selling their tickets on Carousell. Excitedly, I logged onto the app and searched for those elusive Ed Sheeran tickets.
I found a couple. But to my dismay, the tickets were inflated by three to five times the original price.
CAT 1 tickets (originally $248) going for $1,800? This can’t be right! Who are these unscrupulous resellers that are getting in the way of real fans like me?
With the rise of online consumer marketplaces such as Carousell and viagogo, it has also created a syndicate of scalpers and scammers that try to profit from fans, many of whom are willing to splurge to see their favourite artistes perform.
But it is not uncommon. Ticket scalpers exist everywhere in the world, and they are most prevalent in Sports. Offline, many of my friends have talked to and turned away scalpers during the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, and at Manchester United’s football matches at Old Trafford in Manchester.
In the age of technology, these scalpers may not even be human. The most infamous ticket scalpers in history, Wiseguy Tickets, was one of the first – in 1999 – to use bots to buy up and resell millions of tickets to shows, concerts and sporting events in the States.
Unethical or just business?
A quick scan on Coldplay and Ed Sheeran’s Facebook pages resulted in comments such as “immoral”, “shameless”, “evil” and “exploitative”. Nobody praised the scalpers for their brilliant business strategy or savviness. Instead, everyone who was there was upset. While there is no legislation in Singapore to prevent the resale of tickets, it is prohibited under the Sports Hub’s terms and conditions of sale. If found to be resold at inflated prices, tickets could be seized or cancelled without refund or other compensation.
Many were also disappointed with “our country’s online ticketing system”, which I had to admit made me want to pull out my hair the first time. It was better the second time with Ed Sheeran, an improvement after Coldplay’s ticket fiasco.
So how can we stop this slippery business of buying and reselling concert tickets at ridiculous prices?
Singapore ticketing sites could take a leaf out of the book of its US counterparts. The American equivalent of SISTIC – Ticketmaster – recently rolled out a new Verified Fan programme, where concert-goers are required to register in advance to purchase tickets. The programme works by slowing transactions down and allowing the company to scrub its list of bot and scalper purchases.
As for individuals and concert-goers, we can report the ticket listings. Flag them, and if there are enough of us to mark the listings as offensive or a scam, the platform administrators will have to investigate and remove them.
And please, DON’T buy from scalpers. The profit they gain should go to the artistes and management that work hard behind the scenes to put on a good show. Crooked sellers only exist with willing buyers. Without any, these unauthorised resellers would soon run out of business.
In Ed Sheeran’s words, you need me, I don’t need you.