By: Tatiana A. Ruru B.Comm. and Yulianti S. Utami S.H., LL.M.
Ticket scalping, the reselling of event tickets at inflated prices, has been a contentious issue around the world. Among all, one of the industries that are greatly impacted by the global pandemic is the offline concerts business.
Now that COVID-19 has come to an end, offline concerts, festivals, and other events across the globe have resumed and possibly expanded in further regions than pre-pandemic times, we have seen that the number of attendees for such ticketed events has risen.
The Fight for Ticket Concert (part 1)
Indonesia has hosted or is planning to host a few headlining artists in 2022/2023 alone such as several K-Pop groups and artists, such as everyone’s favorite pop-rock band Coldplay. Take into consideration that Indonesia – or even Jakarta itself, where the majority of the events will or have taken place – is home to approximately more than 10 million inhabitants itself.
The biggest event venue for Jakarta and its vicinity (Jabodetabek) is Gelora Bung Karno (GBK), which can host close to 78,000 people which is still decent in size but not close enough to accommodate Jakarta’s dense population, let alone Indonesian. With the artists themselves only conducting a one-day concert dates in Jakarta, the surge of the demand for tickets has skyrocketed. Scalpers see this as an opportunity to create a business in earning quick bucks by buying and reselling the tickets at an elevated price.
Lacking Manpower and Technology at Scale, Individual Buyers are Constantly Losing Against Scalpers
Scalpers have transformed their method following technology advancement. Previously, concert goers were required to physically purchase tickets at a designated ticket box or counters. While it is still possible to buy in mass amounts, it requires more physical labor.
Moreover, it open chances for scalpers to resell the ticket bought at an astronomically elevated price, because it was untraceable. Today concert-ticket scalping practices use technology as ticket selling has shifted to digital means. Scalpers hire individuals or organized groups to work together and create a so-called “task force” in order to join the ticket queuing system when the tickets go on sale and buy up as many seats as possible.
These “task forces” have the skills and equipment needed to support them, such as multiple devices, stable high-speed internet connection as well as quick and agile hands. Often, they succeeded in getting a lot of tickets.
Recently, scalpers have come to light and become more visible because of the exorbitant resell price. Take for example when the widely-popular Korean girl group Blackpink announced last year that they will add Jakarta as one of their stops for their world tour, tickets have been sold on reseller platforms as high as Rp 21 million, which was a staggering 2000% increase of its actual retail price.
This phenomenon inspired other aspiring resellers to partake in the ticket reselling business, further crowding the market of demand for honest ticket transactions between artists and their fans. As an example, the sale of the highly anticipated Coldplay concert in Jakarta was highly competitive, both by individual fans as well as by scalpers.
When tickets in Indonesia were snatched up in mere minutes and immediately resold at e-commerce sites and even private Instagram accounts for up to 10x the actual price, everybody was angered because a lot of these allocated seats went to the scalpers.
This constantly repeating issue has initiated a conversation among the Indonesian public, questioning whether the establishment of a regulation is necessary and should be enforced in this country to protect the consumers. Some governments from various countries have stepped in to regulate the practice of ticket resellers.
Some countries imposed an outright ban of scalpers and issued any form of organized reselling with heavy fines, while some asked that these third-party resellers register valid business licenses and. Bottom line is that these initiatives are intended to regulate both parties to ensure fair practices.
Some Regulations on Scalpers in A Few Countries
Taiwan recently made headlines that the government has recently amended certain regulations to penalize scalpers with heavy fines such as a three years imprisonment and/or fines up to $3 Million Taiwanese Dollars. The amendment to the Development of the Cultural and Creative Industries Act came to light when the tickets to the K-Pop groups Blackpink and Super Junior were sold in an enormous 17-40 times increase of the original price.
The government has intervened and specified that moving forward the ticket buyers will provide details such as their full name as per their issued government ID, and can only be bought in certain authorized ticketing platforms. The Taiwanese government also announced that any whistleblowers or individuals who help to identify and report scalpers will receive a huge sum of reward.
Australia is also another country that protects its consumers from scalpers by launching the Major Events Act in 2009. Though it remains legal, ticket resellers need to acquire authorization from the event organizer to become a third-party reseller. Within the ticket sale post or advertisement, these resellers then need to include a few additional information such as:
- Their name
- ABN (Business Identifier Number in Australia’s Business Registration Bureau)
- A statement that they are an authorized ticket reseller
- The original retail price of the ticket
- The intended resale price
- Seat location of the ticket
In 2019, Japan has banned any forms of ticket reselling to anticipate for their upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Instead, Japan has introduced the lottery system for popular concerts and events whereas interested ticket buyers may sign up for a randomized lottery system to check whether they will win a chance to purchase a ticket. This is considered fair by many as it provides every interested party an equal chance.
As of today, Indonesia has yet to have a specific regulation on scalping practice nor its reselling price. Two regulations closely related to scalping business are Law Number 5 of Year 1995 on the Prohibition of Monopoly and Unhealthy Competition (Antitrust Law), and the Consumer Law. However, neither has been crossed by reselling practice.
If we may learn from other countries’ practices, the government can step in on this issue if it establishes that the practice of scalping with inflated prices is inconsistent with consumer protection. To help the government notice this issue, a massive complaint to the government may be taken into consideration.
Consumer Protection Law has appointed the Yayasan Lembaga Konsumen Indonesia (YLKI) to assist customers in any consumer protection issues. This way there will be some improvements on Indonesia’s problem with constant scalping of tickets.
However, some may argue that the practice of scalping is just part of the supply and demand economics of the entertainment and sporting industry. In our next part of our blog, we are taking an angle from the point of view of the resellers. Stay tuned on our next part of our blog post where we discuss on how imposed regulations can protect both the consumers and the resellers. You can read more about this issue on The Fight for Ticket Concert (part 2) post.