Every year in September, gamers across South Africa get ready for rAge, the country’s biggest Gaming Expo and BYOC LAN. Every year, the tickets go on sale on the 1st of August, and every year they sell out within days. And again, every year you get people buying tickets in excess of what they need, for one sole purpose: to create a quick artificial shortage and then resell their excess at inflated prices.
I didn’t get to Computicket on the day the sale started, and on the next day, there were no more tickets left. However there are currently lots of posts on sites like Gumtree, Bidorbuy and several forums, offering to sell tickets at harsh mark-ups. The ‘cheapest’ you can currently get is about R600, I have seen offers of up to R800, and there are unconfirmed reports from 2009 when tickets were selling at up to R1000 1. For reference: last year the face value of a rAge ticket was R250, this year it’s R300. There have also been reports of seats staying empty due to ticket resellers not being able to find buyers for all their excess 2, but again I can’t confirm that because I didn’t make it to the expo last year.
I did actually have two tickets, but couldn’t go on short notice and sold them to someone at the price I paid for them.
There is nothing in the law to keep people from doing this. It happens with any kind of concert or event tickets, especially the popular ones. Computicket’s Terms and Conditions prohibit the resale of tickets bought through them 3, but that has yet to stop anyone from doing it. Computicket also restricts the amount of tickets per customer. For rAge the limit was 5 tickets each, which is already too much. Make purchases under different names and you’ll quickly have a sizable amount if tickets in your possession. I posted on two web forums looking for tickets, and was contacted by someone who offered me tickets at R600 each. My reply was that that seemed a bit excessive, considering the ticket’s face value was half that, but the reply was that this was the current going price. The mail address of this person, which I am not going to publish but have given to the relevant people, indicates that he is a regular reseller of rAge tickets and not just someone who happened to have a few excess. I wonder if that person even goes to the expo.
The point is – by buying tickets in excess, creating a shortage and then trying to profit from it, people place themselves in the scum pond of capitalism. Right there with stock speculators, naked short sellers 4 and other people who try to make money from nothing, however illegitimate their methods are. You’re not a hero, neither are you a clever businessman. You’re a parasite. You try to sell something with 100 to 150% mark-up while offering absolutely no added value. You’re taking advantage of a shortage you helped create. And you’re depriving a person of money they might have otherwise spent at the expo. That’s not business – that’s theft. You’re stealing money from people who are desperate or gullible enough to buy from you.
The possibly only way to completely curb the black market is to personalize tickets and tie them to a name and ID number. If you present a ticket and your ID and name don’t conform with the ticket – sorry, no admission. If you have tickets that you can’t use, the only choice you have is to return them and let the organizers sell them to someone else – re-personalized of course. But aside from the fact that this would be completely inconveniencing legit customers, it also opens a big can of worms with regards to privacy, fraud and data harvesting – other parts of the capitalism scum pond.
The rAge LAN organizers, New Age Gaming (NAG), have a clear policy on this issue and seem to try their best to enforce it.
“As you may realise, selling and buying second-hand tickets to the NAG LAN @ rAge is seriously frowned upon. Please report anyone attempting to do so here, or PM me if you’d like to remain anonymous.”
They also have a suggestion for people with excess tickets:
“If you have extra tickets that you need to get rid of, please contact us and we’ll happily buy them from you for their original price plus shipping/delivery. We will then sell those tickets back to willing buyers for their original price.” 5
I reckon that’s only fair. Return your tickets to NAG, they’ll give you exactly what you paid for them, and cover your shipping cost. You won’t lose a cent. Of course, you won’t make a profit either – but it was never yours to make in the first place. The alternative is to be a good sport and sell your excess at face value. Anything else is unsportsmanlike at best, and the scene does not need people like that.
If you still happen to look for a rAge ticket and are unwilling to pay inflated prices, contact lauren at nag dot co dot za and have your name put on the waiting list. Apparently they usually get a number of returns as the event draws closer, and will sell them at the original price.