Wednesday, December 21, 2011

3 Lessons about Selling Sports Tickets on Craigslist, Or, Why I'm a Moron

As I mentioned last week, over the last few months, I have managed to lose a good-sized sum of money by selling my extra season tickets for the San Diego Chargers on Craigslist.  While I have more or less sworn off of making money in this way, I learned a few things that I think could be helpful to others who are trying to make money selling tickets on Craigslist.

But today, I'd rather talk to you about the draft...

Nah, just kidding.  Here are my thoughts about selling football tickets on Craigslist.

1)  Don't Assume Prices Will Go Up - I bought a partial season ticket package (I received tickets to four of the eight home games).  For arbitrage to be successful, one must sell items for more than he or she paid for them (this is key).  Of the four games that I purchased, the ticket prices for only one of those games in the secondary market went up significantly.  For each of the other games, the tickets lost value (including one game in which market forces compelled me to sell three tickets for $10 a piece -- a $60 per ticket loss).  For the other two games, I lost about $15 to $20 per ticket.

2)  Make Sure to Maximize Profits - I purchased season tickets because the secondary market for one of the games (Green Bay at San Diego) was ridiculously expensive, and the Chargers organization, knowing that that was the marquis game of the season, did not allow fans to purchase tickets for that game alone.  Instead, fans had to buy at least a two game package.  Nevertheless, it has been a tradition for me and my family to go to a Chargers game at least once a season, so I thought I'd save us all (read: my family) money by buying the tickets as part of this package.

Then, on the morning of the game, which took place in beautiful, sunny San Diego, the unthinkable happened: it rained.  One of the people who was going to come to the game was my grandfather who, though spry for an 88 year old, is not really the sort of person who should be sitting in the rain for an extended period of time.  My uncle (understandably) decided to keep grandpa company, which left me stuck with two tickets.  Worried about the last minute nature of my plight, I hurriedly put the two tickets up on Craigslist.   While I did make a small profit, the sheer number of rapid responses to my posting led me to believe that I could have sold the tickets for quite a bit more.  When you consider that I felt compelled to pay my grandpa and uncle back for what they had paid me for the tickets, I didn't come out very far ahead at all.

Particularly when I lost money on the other games, I should have tried to sell the tickets for a lot more.

3)  Make Sure to Have Change - For one pair of tickets that I sold, the buyer and I had agreed to $110.  Absent-mindedly, I did not bring change with me.  The buyer only had twenty dollar bills (as he had just hit up an ATM on his way to meet me), so we were left with with three options: not selling the tickets, selling the tickets for $120, or selling the tickets for $100.  As I was leaving early the next morning to fly to a different state for a work conference, I wanted to get rid of the tickets (as dealing with buyers on Craigslist is a fickle, time-consuming enterprise), so not selling them wasn't really a great option for me.  He, of course, didn't want to pay more than we had agreed on, and so I was left taking less money than I had expected. 

I realize that $10 isn't a lot of money, but, as I had already lost so much money, any amount extra that I could get back would have helped.

In short, I think trying to re-sell tickets is a fool's errand, unless you can purchase the tickets for a significantly reduced rate.  If you're paying face value with the intention to re-sell, you are almost certainly paying too much.  Nevertheless, people can and do make money in this way, and I hope the above will provide a helpful, if cautionary, example.

Photo by me!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found a website called that solves a lot of the problems involved with buying/selling tickets on craigslist.