Son, don’t scalp tickets
Son, don’t scalp tickets
I was a little boy, disappointed that all the tickets to a movie that I wanted to see with my father had sold out. But then someone wanted to do us a favor: a generous fellow came up and offered to sell his tickets to us. My father didn’t appear to notice him, and so I tugged on his sleeve and demanded: But Dad, he’s got tickets to sell – and we want to see the movie! Why shouldn’t we buy from him? My father waited until we had moved away a little, and explained to me: The man is a scalper. He buys tickets that he knows will run out, and then sells them for inflated prices. You mustn’t buy from people like that! As for me – I was amazed that there was that kind of business going on.
It’s not just my father who hated scalpers. During Israel’s austerity years, soon after the establishment of the State, there was an extensive campaign against price gouging. Today we have Amendment 67 to the Penal Law, entitled “Prohibition against Ticket Scalping.” Under the law, one who sells tickets to a “performance” at a price higher than that printed on the ticket, is subject to a hefty fine.
I was taken back to my childhood because scalping is now at the center of the current technological scandal: An application called ReservationHop makes fake table reservations at popular restaurants, and then sells the reservations to the highest bidder. Bon Appetit!
The technology news site, TechCrunch – which generally supports any technology that “disturbs” the status quo – this time lost its appetite (and its patience) over the matter. One of the writers called the application by some rather impolite names, the mildest being “Go disr*pt yourself” (the rest can be seen here: http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/03/go-disrupt-yourself/ ). As a result of the article, a wave of public indignation forced the hardworking entrepreneurs to backtrack on the idea, but not completely.
ReservationHop is a symptom of negative entrepreneurship, initiatives that don’t contribute anything to the world. Maybe not everyone is capable of living up to “Love thy neighbor as thyself” – but I have never heard of a commandment to “Trick thy neighbor as much as you can.” This kind of initiative is the kind that wants to make a quick buck out of a need that doesn’t really exist. Not only does it not create anything, nor does it justify any profits that it may make – it’s worse: it’s an initiative that limits the availability of already limited resources.
One user responded: Good – why don’t they grab seats in the ER, and then sell their place in the queue? Indeed, an excellent idea for a startup. I even have a name for the app: Shar-App!