Scalpers operate without interference

Yenni Kwok

The problem of scalpers selling Hong Kong-Macau ferry tickets at the Shun Tak Centre is largely ignored by the police and the ferry company.

A South China Morning Post investigation carried out before this weekend's rush for tickets found the touts usually operate during the peak hour, between 5pm and 6pm.

Six men stood in front of TurboJet's ticket booths offering tickets. '$160, $160', they said, referring to the price of economy-class tickets on offer.

The scalpers work as a group.

On weekdays they sell the economy tickets - marked 'complimentary' - for $160, one dollar less than the normal night-service.

At weekends the economy tickets go for $200. It is believed the touts get the tickets from agents who make bulk bookings.

Staff at the ticket counter and a security guard employed by Shun Tak Centre did nothing to stop the touts.

'I didn't understand why the ferry company did nothing while these people sold tickets in front of them,' said a traveller. 'I asked a ticketing worker to call the police, but he only laughed.' The scalpers had been around since June, he said. In November, he was forced to buy a ticket from one of them, spending $200 for a $161 economy ticket.

Shun Tak-China Travel Ship Management, which operates TurboJet, was aware of the scalping, said spokeswoman Stephanie Kwan.

'But, we have no way to control the problem and it should be left to the police,' she added.

Police said they summonsed offenders and arrested repeated offenders.

'We don't consider it a serious problem,' said Superintendent Ryan Chan Yui-wah, the divisional commander of the Waterfront Police.