Bright Idea: Scalping Entries to the Houston Marathon
Marathon organizers cap the number of entries, but this year they allowed runners to transfer their slots to another runner if for some reason they couldn’t make it.
Apparently some runners took this as an invitation to sell their $85 place in the race for significant profit. Craiglist and eBay soon offered bidding for people who’d been shut out.
And that displeased marathon officials. They’ve sent out an e-mail, the relevant part of which is in all-caps:
NOTE: IN AN EFFORT TO PROTECT AGAINST PRICE GOUGING, IF ANY PERSON FROM THIS DATE ON IS CAUGHT ATTEMPTING TO CHARGE MORE THAN $200 FOR A MARATHON ENTRY OR $140 FOR A HALF MARATHON ENTRY, THEY RUN THE RISK OF BEING BANNED FROM PARTICIPATING IN ANY OF OUR 2009 RACE EVENTS. IF YOU HAVE AN ENTRY FOR SALE ON EBAY, CRAIGSLIST OR ELSEWHERE AND ARE CHARGING ABOVE $200 OR $140, WE SUGGEST YOU CHANGE YOUR ASKING PRICE IMMEDIATELY.
The free market!! (Not) at work!! -- Richard Connelly