A black market for Rugby World Cup tickets has ballooned on online marketplace eBay, with hundreds of tickets for sale and some scalpers asking up to $4300 for a seat to the Eden Park final.
Despite efforts from tournament organisers Rugby New Zealand 2011 to prevent ticket scalping, the law cannot be enforced overseas.
Yesterday there were hundreds of tickets being sold online at eBay sites worldwide, with 180 listings on the Australian site, 183 in Britain and dozens more across 13 other countries.
Though Trade Me has agreed not to list tickets, more than 30 people were advertising on New Zealand trading site gumtree.co.nz. Within New Zealand, it is a crime to onsell World Cup tickets for above their face value, punishable by a fine of up to $5000.
RNZ 2011 spokesman Mike Jaspers said the organisation was aware of the online activity and, as was expected, it had "ramped up" closer to the tournament. "We are actively contacting those who are auctioning tickets and seeking withdrawal of these offers. We have also repeatedly communicated with the company, eBay."
On eBay yesterday, one New Zealand user was offering two top-tier tickets to the final for $8700, claiming "Must sell as have extra tickets because of cancellation." They have a face value of $2556.
The same person was also selling different tickets to the same match for $7500, alongside dozens of other listings. They did not respond to messages.
Though some people had raised prices, others were selling heavily discounted tickets – and in one case giving them away – because they could not go to the games.
A 37-year-old German tourist listed six tickets to the France v Canada match in Napier, because he ended up with more tickets than he needed from the official ballot. He managed to sell them for their face value of $31 on the streets of Napier, but said he was made to feel like a criminal.
A Wellington father bought four tickets for the New Zealand v Canada match in Wellington on eBay for about $100 each, because it was more affordable than the $194 he would have had to pay on the official website. "In my mind it's a case of this is being done in good faith: people want to sell them so there's no real problem. I wanted to take my kids, and it was simple economics of trying to get my family to the rugby."
Jenny Thomas, communications manager for eBay Australia and New Zealand, said the company was contacted by organisers last year, and agreed to help prevent the resale of tickets listed on eBay New Zealand. She said they had no further communication from RNZ 2011, so had continued to allow listings on international sites.
- © Fairfax NZ News