Is ReedPOP/ NYCC Getting Spoiled

ReedPOP has set their sights on unauthorized ticket resellers. Scalpers as they are commonly known. Those who would purchase the ticket at face value and then jack up the price to sell to desperate fans who want to get in. This is far from uncommon. Ask any sports fan. Ask any concert fan. Ask any person who has wanted to get into an event, but didn’t make the time to actually reserve their ticket until it was too late and the event had sold out. So who do they turn to? Why, the scalpers of course! Sure it may cost an extra 10-150% markup, but they get in! That’s all that matters to many of these folks.

But how exactly does scalping work, and what is ReedPOP doing in an effort to prevent it?

Back in the days before craigslist, social media, the internet, and cell phones, scalpers would just hang around outside offering tickets for sale to all the passersby. They technically are not committing a criminal act since a pass to comic con is not a weapon or a narcotic. Selling it on the street won’t land you in jail, although the NYPD has been present the last few years to issue a summons or two. Scalpers can surely be removed from the property, but you’ll see them all around the area if you know where to look. Nowadays, the best place to look is online.

Last year, NYCC tickets sold out in record time. 4-day, 3-day, individual days, and the now disposed of Ultimate Access/VIP tickets (removed to give all fans equal experience). Sure enough, the moment they sold out, craigslist blew up with offers to purchase tickets from all over the country. In the age of wire transfers and tracked charges, it’s no wonder the scalpers will get smarter about how to do their business.
Back in my day, as a lowly reporter for a small radio station, all I needed was a business card with my editorial title and a photo ID. I could show up the day of the convention, walk right to the press office and ask, with a smile on my face, “May I please fill out an on-site press registration?” But in 2012, ReedPOP enacted a “fans first” policy, in order to show their appreciation to the paying patrons of their brand. So registering had to take place early on. No more registration on-site for Press, and later Professionals. It all had to be done online. Perhaps fans weren’t the only ones plagued by fraudulent applications.

Now fans can no longer purchase tickets on site (if any end up being available). All tickets must be purchased online. Up until this year, fans who didn’t get a chance to buy online could have gone to an authorized reseller, such as Midtown Comics in Manhattan, which has been a long time partner to ReedPOP when it comes to promoting NYCC. Unfortunately, that is no longer an option either.

Following the example of Comic Con International (or otherwise known as SDCC – the SD is for San Diego), ReedPOP has now instituted a three-step process. That started in 2016, fans who want to purchase a ticket now need to create a “Fan Verification” on their website. Once the Fan Verification has been verified by ReedPOP’s team, the fan’s unique email address is added to a listserv. Two days before the tickets officially go on sale (with no specific date announced or even known at this point), all fans who filled out a Fan Verification before June 13th will be notified of the ticket sale date. At that point, it is business as usual to purchase your ticket. This year, the only options are individual days, full weekend 4-day, or Friday-Saturday-Sunday 3-day passes.

What’s more, Each verified fan will be allowed to purchase up to four tickets of each type, and up to twelve total. So basically, I can buy myself and three friends each a 4-day pass, buy four more friends each a 3-day pass, and four single day passes, to essentially get myself and seven friends in for all four days (four 4-days + four 3-days + four Thursdays). But there is a catch. Each of my friends needs to have their own Fan Verification registered with ReedPOP. If they aren’t, tough luck.

This kind of feels like an online dating site. You can register for free, but then when you want to use it you have to pay.

The ultimate question is, how effective has this been in stopping scalpers? It seems that this system is more a means of detecting fraud rather than deterring it. Much can be speculated such as monitoring how many times the same credit card number is used to purchase tickets or how many are being shipped to the same address (surely there must be some buildings in which every single apartment dweller wants to attend).

And since this is public information anyway, how are scalpers expected to be stopped? Scalpers tend to be rather adept at purchasing multiple tickets. They seem to do it with the greatest of ease.

H Shaw BiffNews