I cannot tell you how disappointing it was last night when I found myself unable to get a ticket for comedian Dayo Wong’s penultimate performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum.
Like many Hongkongers, I couldn’t land tickets the usual way. Now, don’t ask me the reason because that will only make me angrier!
After much deliberation and waiting, and being reminded repeatedly that the shows had been sold out months in advance, I and some friends decided to try our luck in the unofficial market, seeking out scalped tickets from illegal dealers, falling back on what locals refer to as yellow cow.
Courtesy a private banker who offered to pay for his poor high school classmates, we began looking for passes that were being resold, not wanting to miss the farewell comedy routine of Wong.
According to an online portal, a HK$888 ticket was being offered for more than HK$2,600. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it marks a good 200 percent profit for the yellow cow.
We secretly set a target price and agreed that we will not bargain if we get any tickets below HK$2,000.
Given our experience with Hong Kong Seven, we assumed it might be possible to get tickets for a lower price than what media reports had been suggesting.
We figured the best chance was to wait until after the show opens, as ticket dealers might make some concessions to get rid of any passes still in their hand.
But our calculations and plans went wrong.
First, we couldn’t find the yellow cow dealers. Instead, we saw many people in uniform outside the venue, apparently standing guard to curb illegal ticket trading activities.
“You are on camera,” we were warned, letting us know that surveillance had been stepped up, thanks to all the chatter about large-scale ticket scalping.
In April, there had been several reports in the media about scalpers targeting Wong’s July event, and that tickets were gone quickly after they were put up for sale.
Owing to the huge demand and the popularity of his unique style of stand-up comedy, Wong had scheduled a total of 26 shows, nine more than originally planned.
An additional 150,000 tickets that went on sale on April 24, involving the nine extra shows, were snapped up within seven hours.
According to reports at that time, scalpers were reselling HK$880 tickets online for as much as HK$4,000.
Returning to our experience yesterday, we couldn’t tell if there were any illegal traders around and had almost given up hope, until we saw someone approach us.
Speaking in an unfamiliar Chinese dialect, the man said he can give us two tickets for HK$5,000 in total, and that he was offering good seats.
We were tempted, but then said ‘No’, informing the person that what we need is three tickets, not two.
I and my friends then began scoping out the area for other potential sellers, but didn’t have any luck.
In the end, realizing that we had no better option, I told my friends to grab the two tickets on offer and enjoy the show, and that I would go home.
I convinced them to go ahead, and made my way out of the venue.
Sitting in an Uber on the way home, several thoughts passed through my mind. For one, I couldn’t help but wonder how much money mainland Chinese touts or scalping syndicates may be making from Hong Kong people.
The dark thoughts became even more intense later when I learnt from my friends that the tickets they had purchased on Monday had actually been complimentary passes.
That means someone got them for free and offloaded them on the black market.
Forgive me if I am in a bad mood today!
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