For anyone who routinely attends gigs and popular shows, ticket touts will be the bane of your existence. I think most music fans will have experienced the pain of a band they really want to see selling out of tickets in 10 minutes, only to see 100’s of tickets on eBay and other places for 3x their face value.
However, according to consumer magazine Which?, not only are these sites morally wrong, they are also routinely breaking the law. More specifically, they are breaking the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which states that buyers must know the original face value of any resold tickets and the seat number, if appropriate.
Which? did an investigation of over 200 listings, and they found “numerous examples” of the rules being ignored. This is just ahead of a government report into the market, which is due on Tuesday.
Many big name artists, including Sir Elton John, Adele, One Direction and Radiohead have called for action against these secondary sites, which they argue prevent fans from buying tickets at face value. (As a fan who had this happen twice, once with Rammstein and once with System of a Down, this is true. Tickets sold out incredibly fast, but I could purchase one from third party sites for 2-3x their value.)
As you may know, touting is a criminal offence for sporting events, and calls have been made to have a similar policy in place for concerts, plays and musicals. Others have called for outright prevention of tickets being resold at a profit, with a hard cap of face value plus 10%.
Either one would be a welcome change, as mentioned above I have seen tickets being sold for 2-3x their value, but it can be much, much higher. At the time of writing, some places are advertising tickets for Radiohead at the Roundhouse for 91x their value – a staggering £5,900.
Which? looked at the four main offenders when it comes to reselling tickets at a much higher value – Getmein, Stubhub, Seatwave and Viagogo, There they looked at listings for popular artists such as Beyonce, and the Jersey Boys, as well as various comedy performances.
They found several instances of the face value of tickets not being listed on Viagogo, despite the legal requirement to do so. Instead, Viagogo’s tiny print says that the price is “within range” of the face value, that range seeming to reach as high as 5x the value.
None of the listings on Viagogo, and only one listing on Getmein showed seat numbers, with many listings on Stubhub and Seatwave only showing the row or section number.
Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at Which? said: “It is clear the protections put in place by the Consumer Rights Act aren’t being followed by some of the biggest players in the market, and no action is being taken against them. The government must crack down on bad practice so that people know what they’re buying and don’t get ripped off.”
With any luck, the government report will bring good tidings. Ticket touts are a huge problem in the music industry, and also for musicals and other live shows. It stops fans from attending these shows unless they are willing to pay a huge markup, and none of this extra profit will ever reach the artist or performer. We need a harsh crackdown on ticket touting.