U.S. News

VIPs, big money turn out for ‘rock star’ Barack Obama’s Montreal speech

Tickets for former U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech at the Montreal Chamber of Commerce June 6 have skyrocketed on online resale sites like StubHub and 514-Billets.

The most expensive tickets, originally sold via Evenko for between $57 and $373, are going for as much as $1,000 to $1,599 each.

The 6,000 available tickets went on sale first to members of the Chamber of Commerce and then opened to the public May 13.

They sold out online within half an hour.

Buyer beware

Michel Leblanc, president of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, told CBC that according to the chamber’s estimates, only about two per cent of all tickets are popping up online.

He does, however, have concerns about the inflated prices.

“Many people have told us we should have sold at a higher price,” he said. “[But] the point was to make it accessible. We want to create events that are accessible to small businesses and professionals who are not able to pay the incredible prices we see on those websites.”

Leblanc also warned that buying tickets, even on well-respected sites, could be risky.

“They are electronic tickets. So [someone] could sell many copies of the same ticket.”

He also noted that some buyers paying premium prices for $57 tickets would surely be disappointed, noting that it’s a large space and people should know what they are getting for that price bracket.

4 times face value

Tickets are popping up on different reselling platforms, including community-oriented sites like Kijiji and Craigslist.

stubhub obama

Prices on StubHub, one of the most popular ticket resale sites in Canada and the U.S., are listed in American dollars. (CBC)

The lowest listed prices hover across the most popular resale sites hover in the $214 to $250 range, still four times more expensive than the face value of the cheapest ticket.

Ticket prices range from a low of $214 (USD) on StubHub to a low of $899 on 514-Billets.

Often tickets in the exact same sections range greatly in price from one site to another.

Canadians call for crackdown

While ticket reselling along with the bots that purchase tickets are not illegal in Canada, it’s clear many people would like the scheme outlawed.

obama kijiji

Tickets sold on Kijiji vary a great deal in price by section. (CBC)

A poll by Angus Reid Institute released last month shows that 81 per cent of Canadians want to see tangible legal consequences such as fines or jail time for people using bots to scoop up large numbers of tickets for resale.

It is, however, impossible to know whether bots are being used in a specific case, or whether the resale tickets are coming from individuals looking to turn a small profit.

This report was originally published in CBC Canada. Click  for more 

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