Tennis: Wimbledon 99: Spivs find new ways to make their mark- up
Tuesday 29 June 1999
There is a subtle difference in their methods now because, since an act of parliament made touting illegal a few years ago, the spivs have had to change their tactics - or be booted off the streets.
One of them, standing at his familiar post 50 yards away from Southfields tube station, explained: "The police would have me away if I said to people I was selling tickets, but they can't touch me - except for maybe obstruction, and there's no way I'm doing that - just for offering to buy spares."
What happens, of course, is that the touts now conduct their business off the streets. Once they've found a potential customer - including somebody who wants to sell them a ticket - they take him "round the corner" to close the deal. This reporter was offered pounds 200 for a pair of pounds 37 tickets on Court One last week, and so you can imagine the mark-up once the touts have got their hands on them.
One German fan is already rumoured to have paid pounds 1,000 for a seat on Centre Court on the first day.
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