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Moral or Immoral? The Oktoberfest Hustler…

by J. Money on Monday, October 15, 2012

oktoberfest accordian getup

This past weekend we had the pleasure of hitting up our 2nd Oktoberfest celebration in a row :) It turns out almost every single town throws one, and if you can time it right you can get damn lucky and hit ‘em up weekend after weekend after weekend throughout the entire October! Hehe… Which means lots of outdoor hanging out, and even better – lots of seasonal brews :) Woo!

Now if you’ve ever been to one of these events (and you totally should, even if you DON’T drink, just cuz it gets you in the Fall spirit of things) you of course know that you have to shell out a few dollars not only to get in, but then to enjoy such fine over-priced beverages and food that happens to be on tap as well. Which is perfectly fine because you already know what you’re getting yourself into before even showing up.

And you also know that you usually have to buy “tickets” for these consumables too, which you then trade in to get your yummies instead of handing over cash each and every time. Probably because there’s some law out there not allowing you to purchase and drink beers in the streets or something, haha… or maybe ‘cuz they just don’t want event workers handling cash, I don’t know. But either way, that’s how you get your food and drinks at these places – you exchange tickets for them.

Now at the first Oktoberfest we attended two Saturdays ago, nothing all that eventful happened. We came. We walked around the happy masses. We bought $10 beers. And then we left happier than we were hours before :) A nice and wonderful day that I didn’t really plan on blogging about ‘cuz it had nothing to do with finance  – unless you count those crazy beer prices… which is pretty much normal in places like NYC and LA anyways ;)

At our SECOND Oktoberfest adventure, however, we came across an interesting little offer that one of us decided to accept, and the other did not ;) As we were waiting in line to purchase these tickets mentioned above, a young hustler dude approached us and asked if we wanted to drink for MUCH cheaper than what the official rates were going for (at this Oktoberfest they were charging $5 a beer, unlike at the previous one which was $10). My immediate response was a hearty “no thanks,” as it is any time a sketchy looking guy approaches me with an “offer,” but my friend was completely unfazed and gladly prodded him for more details.

“I’ll hook you up with 4 tickets for $10 instead of the 2 you’re about to pay in a second” – The hustler mumbles back…

My friend: “Hmm… make it $5 and you have yourself a deal.”

The hustler: “What? That’s the price you’re about to pay for ONE! Come on now…”

My friend: “Well, then that person will get my $5 instead.”

The hustler: “Whatever man… fine… give me the $5 bucks.”

Haha… and 2 seconds later he’s got 4 tickets for a grand total of $5 bucks in his hands, and I’m out $10 for only TWO :) Granting him the better deal at $1.25 per beer now, and me at $5.00 a glass, jeesh… But of course that’s the outcome of the decisions we both happened to make. I wasn’t comfortable wheeling and dealing on the side, and my risky friend was.

The following flew through my mind while they were both discussing:

  1. Where did this kid even GET these tickets? He’s only 15!
  2. What if they’re not the *same* tickets everyone else is using? They’re blue, but so far that’s the only thing that matches up as we haven’t seen any up close yet… What if you get caught?
  3. Is the discount even worth the hassle? If you were already fine paying the $5/beer anyways?
  4. And lastly – Is it IMMORAL to take up this kid’s offer? Knowing full well he’ll be getting the money instead of the people/companies putting together the whole event? Should it even matter?

Of course the entire transaction only took 30 seconds from start to finish before everything was said and done, so it wasn’t like you could really THINK enough to make a calculated weighing of the pros and cons anyways – we pretty much had to go with our gut from the second we were approached and then wrap it all up. And I guess mine was saying “Stay away! Stay away!” Haha…

In the end though my friend made out with his dealings just as smoothly as anyone else did (the tickets ended up being legit), and we all went home happier and with much fuller bellies. The only question that remained, at least for me, was if this was a MORAL dilemma or not? It felt wrong to me, but why exactly was that? ‘Cuz it was going around the system? I do that all the time when I find holes! I read somewhere that if the thought even crosses your mind when considering the morality of something, though, then more than likely you’ve got your answer right there. So I dunno…

I now throw it your way :) What do you make of this? Would YOU have taken the killer deal too, or walked? Regardless, at least I know I won’t be losing sleep any time soon… and it was a nice reminder to always negotiate negotiate NEGOTIATE! If someone tries to hustle you, go hustle them right back! Haha…

Y’all stay safe out there this Oktoberfest season ;)

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Photo credit: Rochelle, just rochelle


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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance @ Money Life and More October 15, 2012 at 7:10 am

I would have thought they were fake. On top of that you’re right that the vendors likely didn’t get the money. It probably costs them a lot for permits and what not to attend so I would have paid the full price if I would drink beer, which I wouldn’t :)

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2 MikeTheRed October 15, 2012 at 7:20 am

I’ve actually done this at fairs myself before. It’s not necessarily shady, regardless of the age of the seller.

There are a few possible ways this young gentleman came by those extra tickets. The one that almost always applied to me was simply that he over-bought. At fairs here in TX, you buy tickets for food and drink (at around $0.50 a ticket) and cash them in at the vendor booths as you go around. You’re still getting $7-$10 beers and $6 funnel cakes, you’re just using more tickets in the process.

So in the past I’ve over-bought tickets to events like these and when I come away with excess paper that I will NEVER be able to use again, I always try to unload it on my way out the door. If I’m at a family-friendly event, I’ll hand over my spare tickets for free to a family that has 2+ kids. If I’m at an adult-focused event (like a Wine or Beer Festival), I’ll sell them off to people waiting in line to buy. Usually at some discount. The idea is I’ve already sunk the money and I’d like to get *something* back, even if I’m losing 25-50% of the value. It’s better than nothing, right?

As a side-note, the most often cited reason I’ve come across on why events sell tickets like this is because of how hard it is going in to predict the number of tickets you’ll need because you don’t know the exchange rate going in. Since it’s usually not a 1-to-1 rate, it encourages you to buy more tickets than you’ll necessarily need. It’s a kind of hot dog vs hot dog bun buying problem.

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3 Brian October 15, 2012 at 8:10 am

While local Oktoberfests are nice… you really should go to Germany and experience the real deal! It is amazing! Probably some of the most fun I have had (as long as you are in one of the fun tents). I also learned that German’s freaking love “Country Roads Take me home.” Also the traditional food is delish!

Highly recommend Oktoberfest!

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4 Stephanie October 15, 2012 at 8:18 am

I’d say the morality of it depends on how the seller got the tickets in the first place. If that person just purchased too many (the venue already got their money) and was just trying to recoup some money from the extras, then it’s not immoral in the least. Of course, if the tickets were stolen or counterfeit, it’s a whole other story.

As to why they sell tickets, it could have to do with the way things are set up with the vendors, moneywise. I live close to Bethlehem, PA, where they have Musikfest every August, and I believe that the rationale behind the tickets there is that group that runs the festival takes a cut of the sales that each vendor makes. If the vendor took cash, they could shortchange the festival by underreporting their income for the night, so instead they do the ticket thing and the vendor gets reimbursed X amount per ticket they take in. But I’ve heard through the grapevine that in the past at least one vendor has also accepted cash from people, which resulted in the festival not getting their cut, so needless to say they got in trouble and haven’t been there since. :-P

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5 Budget & the Beach October 15, 2012 at 9:59 am

I have a tendency not to buy from any kind of scalper. If I do deals, it’s usually from a discount site like goldstar or groupon. But everyone is different and I don’t blame you for trying. :)

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6 LB @ Finanical Black Sheep October 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

I would have thought they were fakes, but I never purchase tickets anyway.

Most of the events I go to that use tickets for food and drinks, are 1.5X to 2X higher than places that only charge money. My guess is if you purchase something with 2 tickets, it feels less than if you purchased it with real money. Once I do the math, I walk around, purchase a couple of things from non-food/drink vendors, and then find somewhere else to eat/drink.

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7 Joe @ Retire By 40 October 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I totally would buy those tickets. I got a light rail ticket from a homeless (maybe) person before. Not sure where they got it, but I couldn’t pass up the 50% discount.
We’ll go to Oktoberfest next year. 8)

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8 Melissa@LittleHouseintheValley October 15, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I would pass on this deal because I would think it fell under, “if it’s too good to be true,” not to mention to morality. What i want to know is how did he get the tickets? I know at our town’s food fair, homeless people wait right outside and ask for the extra tickets. Maybe he got them this way and was then selling them to others? In that case, the full price was already paid by the people who first bought them. Just a guess.

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9 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager October 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I wouldn’t have taken him up on the offer.

But if someone was walking out of the tent with tickets and was giving them away for free, I would totally take them up on it.

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10 Adam Hathaway October 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I do not trust people so readily so I probably would have thought that they were fake also. Could for your friend who took the risk though. The worst that could happen is that he had to buy 2 tickets which would have cost him $15 with the failed investment.

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11 J. Money October 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

@Lance @ Money Life and More – Yeah, that was our #1 concern at first too – that they could be fake… but then even if they were, my friend figured he could always try and still sneak it by and then if THAT failed it was only a loss of a few bucks :) Or, in this case, 1 beer, haha…
@MikeTheRed – Haha nice nice… I agree it’s hard to figure out how many you’ll need at these things! And if the tickets are legit (ie you bought them and just can’t use as you said) then I don’t have a problem w/ that at all actually. And might even re-sell ‘em myself! :) I guess in this case here it was more of the “sketchy” factor and not knowing where he had gotten them from… we should have just asked, haha…
@Brian – I WOULD LOVE TO!!! The closest I’ve gotten was some sort of beer festival outside of Prague. And it was magnificant :)
@Stephanie – Yikes! Can’t be doing that ;) And I agree with the “knowing where the tickets came from” thing too – it def. makes the most difference here.
@Budget & the Beach – I love me some Goldstar! My last few dates came from their tickets!
@LB @ Finanical Black Sheep – Haha, there you go :) Or bring a flask, right?
@Joe @ Retire By 40 – See, that’s the weird part here – for some reason I’m TOTALLY okay with that (maybe cuz it helps the homeless person more? rather than a feisty kid?) and I’d probably pick up that 50% offer too, as long as it WORKED. Which again is the trickiest part. If I coulnd’t prove it first I would probably just say forget it and go buy the regular one and avoid the hassle altogether ;)
@Melissa@LittleHouseintheValley – I used to fall for that “too good to be true” rule allllll the time as a kid. And each time I learned a valuable lesson, haha…
@Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Haha… so you’re not opposed to the morality of it all, just the price? ;)
@Adam Hathaway – Yep… and since he took the risk, he got all the rewards! hehe…

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12 Sue D October 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I would not bite on the discounted tickets, I would think that is stealing.

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