Jan 302008

One of the money making opportunities I’ve been intending to explore for sometime is the controversial world of scalping reselling concert and event tickets. When I was homeless in the 90s one of the ways I’d earn money was to sit on line for ticket resellers in order to help them get around the 4 tickets per person limit for big events. I was sleeping on sidewalks anyway, so why not do so somewhere I was not going to get hassled by the police and make a few bucks at the same time. Now that I’ve finally got a stable living environment for the first time since childhood I wanted to give the game a shot from the other end. So, when I was asked by a ticket broker to advertise Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez tickets back in December I figured it was time to try my hand as well.

Tickets to this fight hadn’t even gone on sale yet and I had just received a rather large paycheck, so the timing seemed perfect. The reseller I was advertising for was listing tickets at roughly three times their face value. Thus, a few days later I found myself refreshing Ticketmaster.com on the hunt for tickets to a boxing match (of all things) that I had neither desire nor intention of attending. I ended up buying two pretty good seats (Section 108, Row M, Seats 11&12) at $400 each. Add in convenience charge, order processing and shipping costs and my total outlay was $870.10 But the reseller who had hired me was offering these very tickets at $1,000 each, so I figured I was pretty safe.

The plan was to hold on to the tickets until late February and then see what I could get for them. Then two things happened – 1) I got really nervous about tying up roughly a third of my monthly paycheck, and 2) eBay had a free listing day. So I threw the tickets up for auction. Only to see them languish without a single bid for 10 solid days. My opening bid was $900.00 which wouldn’t even cover my cost of the tickets and eBay fees combined. Due to the risk involved with PayPal and the amount of money involved I wasn’t willing to accept online payment, but insisted on a bank cashiers check. This clearly ruffled some feathers based on the questions I received during the auction, but I was also the only one selling seats of this quality at the time. When the auction closed without a single bid I was even more nervous about my investment. After all, I know almost nothing about boxing and it turns out the event had yet to sell out at Ticketmaster. Tickets located right next to mine were still available at face value. Yikes! I’d clearly made a huge mistake, but at least I still had a few months for the event to sell out and the secondary market prices to rise.

The evening after the auction closed I received an email from someone who had contacted me while the listing was live. Her dog had a medical emergency and she had missed the opportunity to bid. Could she buy the tickets still? Well, of course she could, but she was very unwilling to get a cashiers check and insisted on using PayPal, which I steadfastly refused to do. After more than 2 dozen emails (during which I became convinced she was trying to scam me out of my tickets) we finally settled on a method of payment that I felt reasonably secure with – she would do an instant transfer from her bank account to my personal PayPal account with the payment being marked as for a “Service”. This meant there was no way she could file a Credit Card Chargeback and PayPal (supposedly) won’t issue refunds for service payments. Boom – $900 into my PayPal account.

Heading off to the post office I spent another $14.91 on sending her the tickets via Registered Mail. This put my total costs at $885.01 and my total revenue at $900.00 leaving me an exciting profit of $14.99. Definetly not worth the heartache and stress I underwent having that money tied up as long as I did. However, I did learn a few things-

  1. Never count on an event you know little about selling out. If you’re interested in Pacquiao tickets, Ticketmaster STILL has seats available at face value (and better than the ones I had)!
  2. Never buy tickets to an event you’re not interested in attending.
  3. Never invest more than you’re willing to lose.

Okay, I knew the last one already, but ignored it because this seemed like such a sure thing. As of today eBay has had more than a dozen listings for these tickets. Only 1 pair has sold and it was for worse seats and FAR less money. It turns out I got REALLY lucky that this woman knew less about boxing than I did and was looking for the perfect wedding gift for her fiance. Otherwise I would have been royally screwed.

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