Isn’t it time we looked into the laws around ticket touting?

Laura Davis

129540902 300x200 Isn’t it time we looked into the laws around ticket touting?Now, I’m aware there are more pressing issues to be concerning ourselves with, but in these rocky economic times in which we’re all having to cut back on spending and cherish the entertainment we can afford to splash out on, it shouldn’t be a given that we have to be wary of getting ripped off.

With the recent reformation of The Stone Roses and the two homecoming Manchester gigs in 2012 seeing a record sell-out time of 14 minutes, a third night was added. Shortly after all the tickets were sold for the three nights, many took to eBay to sell their recent purchases.

The site had listed tickets for up to 20 times their face value, with one showing a bid of £1 million as fans tried to undermine the seller.

Tickets to their gigs are still being sold for at least double the face value, leaving fans who missed out on tickets understandably annoyed.

In March this year, Theresa May increased the maximum fine for London Olympics 2012 touting from £5000 to £20,000 to “ensure that there is a more substantial deterrent to serious and organised criminal groups.”

Similar rules stop touting to Wimbledon, and in May this year the Rugby Football Union won a landmark victory against Viagogo, which meant the website would have to reveal the names and addresses of people who sold on tickets to England rugby matches, although the company has since been granted the right to appeal.

So, why can’t the same rules apply for all entertainment tickets?

Tickets for the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the National Gallery are currently being sold on the internet for 15 times their value. Viagogo is charging nearly £300 for tickets which includes various fees, but the National Gallery has said that tickets which are re-sold can be cancelled without refund or admission refused as the re-sale of tickets is against the terms and conditions.

Having contacted eBay about the matter, their stance is:

“Our research shows that most sellers (9 out of 10) are selling 5 or less tickets a year, suggesting most sellers are individuals rather than those making a living from it.”

Whilst it’s important for people to have the option to sell on tickets if they can no longer attend an event, that’s one in ten that are selling six tickets or more. Many sites have a restricted number of tickets one person can purchase at a time, which is a good way to avoid touting, but there is no law to cap the resale of ticket prices.

There’s a difference between official ticket agencies – outlets authorised to sell gig tickets at face value – and unofficial sites which buy from the secondary market and sell for increased prices.

It seems as simple as this: if less money could be made from the process of touting, its appeal would be diminished.

Festivals fall into the concert category which is heavily targeted by touts, and with so many online mediums making it easier for people to be ripped off, it’s no longer case of just knowing that the middle-aged men outside a gig venue aren’t necessarily to be trusted.

Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis outwitted touts in 2007, when photo ID was introduced to buy tickets for the Somerset festival. This successful remedy to touting meant it was just fans who took to the site to buy tickets, and the festival is as successful as ever. Instead of giving buyers the option of selling tickets on, they can opt to purchase ticket protection for an extra £4.50, which provides a refund if you can’t attend the event.

Whilst photo tickets might be a long shot for one-off gigs for the time-being, introducing a restriction on the amount tickets could be resold for would be a good start to address this problem which has been going on for far too long.

Not all, but I’m sure the majority of bands who come from humble beginnings wouldn’t want to see their fans miss out on seeing them play because of the greed of the minority.

Bring on the price cap.

Follow @laurajodavis on Twitter

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  • Overture33

    Tickemaster is the worst offender in the world at letting tickets get into touts hands.  My last episode was trying to buy Chris Cornell tickets for a show in Boston.  I waited online for ticketmaster to start selling the tickets (12:00 EST).  I refreshed the page constantly so that I could see the exact moment the tickets were on sale.  Within 10 seconds of the tickets going on sale I had pushed the button to buy the tickets, and the system said they were sold out. NO concert has ever sold out in 10 seconds, and certainly not the smaller gigs I have tried to get tickets for.  I instantly searched online for tickets and found 3 websites that were selling tickets at 4 times their value.  This should be impossible.

  • Overture33

    No, it’s not about supply and demand.  Touts are finding a way to funnel many of the tickets for a single event into their hands.  This shouldn’t happen.  Once a single individual has all the tickets then they can sell them beyond a price the event organisers had intended.  So you have individuals between the event host and the purchaser who are abusing the system to monopolise tickets to the event.  It’s not the same as “supply and demand”. 

  • mitchmac83

    You can’t lay the blame at Ticketmaster for that? Many touts are professionals, this is their day job. They use multiple computers and programmes that flood the ticketing website to syphon as many tickets as they can, essentially locking out legitimate customers. Agreed the Ticketmaster website is not at all user friendly but they do have validation procedures in place in an attempt to block this type of behaviour, unfortunately there is always a way around everything if you’re savy enough. It’s pretty clear to me that the comments here in support of the touts are either from people who enjoy a healthy profit from this vile practice or from people who have a flourishing money tree in their back yard!

  • phonybliar

    I take your general point.  However the argument ‘If you don’t want to pay, don’t..your choice.’ falls down when looking at todays food prices as an example.  Food prices across the board have never been so high from profiteering manufacturers.  People are hard pressed to afford some basic food items that in previous times they took for granted.  The same thing goes for utilities pricing.
    The choice of whether to pay or not is not always as clear cut as you would like to suggest it is.

  • TomNightingale

    Food prices today are almost as low as they have ever been in REAL terms. Most people can buy a weeks food for a small fraction of their incomes  (less than 10% of average gross per capita GDP). That does not mean we are all OK..there are many who struggle. 

    It is “profiteering manufacturers” and supermarkets who are responsible for cheap food.

    Utilities** costs are driven mostly by energy costs. There are some pricing issues for people using pre-pay…maybe others. 

    I thought my post was on a concerts etc ticket site blog.

  • christotheo

    As good as Chris Cornell is, I think the general point is that a gig like this would never attract that kind of attention – it’s not like the Smiths had just reformed to play in Boston for one night only

  • jrb

    whilst you’re at it, do something about the likes of ticketmaster adding incredibly unfair, and unjustified charges for purchasing tickets online.. it should be cheaper, not more expensive! 

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