Hip fans in B.C. feeling tragically ripped off

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One seller was asking US$5,499 on Tuesday for a nosebleed seat at the sold-out July 24 concert at Rogers Arena in Vancouver of Canadian icons The Tragically Hip. The ticket is an exception to most listed on StubHub, where even floor seats were going for much less.

But Hip fans have been quick to blame ticket scalpers and resellers for gaming the system, using software and cashing in on the band’s final tour, which was announced last week after the band revealed singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Hip has added an extra Vancouver show to the tour, July 26, which should bring prices down.

The scalping situation has renewed calls for government action to regulate the ticket industry.

“It’s just gross, because the person who’s selling those tickets has done nothing — added zero to the economy, done nothing to benefit society — just managed to swoop in and grab something that was valuable and jack the prices,” said Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End/Coal Harbour.

Chandra Hebert has been battling inflated ticket prices since 2009, when he introduced a private member’s bill to regulate the sale of event tickets and prevent price gouging.

MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert
MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert Gerry Kahrmann / Vancouver Sun

In March, Chandra Herbert sent a letter to Justice Minister Justice Suzanne Anton calling on the provincial government to “investigate this issue, involve the community, and develop standards to better protect British Columbians from price gouging.”

But Chandra Hebert believes the provincial government has “zero will” to deal with ticket scalping.

StubHub wants to assure fans that current ticket prices for the Hip’s tour are typical of an event with such high demand, but not necessarily the final cost.

“The asking prices you see on our site now are just that — asking prices — and we often see these come down as we get farther from the on-sale days and closer to the events, as the market continues to set itself,”  the firm said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Vancouver police are reminding Hip fans there’s “a very good chance” tickets to any event bought on websites such as Craigslist could be fake or purchased fraudulently, and should only be bought through a legitimate business.

“This type of fraud is rampant,” Const. Brian Montague said in an email.

But if a person chooses to buy tickets through Craigslist, police recommend the tickets be transferred through the ticket company’s electronic-transfer service. Otherwise, the buyer should meet the seller at the venue to have the tickets scanned at the door, then pay after they’re verified.