Justice for the fans! The House of Lords have put forward rules to tighten the law on ticket touts. It’s time to make a stand.
Liverpool’s Echo Arena glows like a shiny blue beacon over the Albert Dock. It’s Kings Of Leon playing. The fans pile into the foyer in their masses, escaping the drizzle of a miserable Saturday night. Merchandise and pints are snatched up by waves of eager buyers. But a pint of Carlsberg is £5.50. The spilt beer makes the floor sticky under-foot. Upon wandering into the auditorium, there arrives the smell of sweat and the growing hum of the crowd.
Soon enough, the 11,000 capacity building reaches bursting point with impatient people; the heat rises, people occupy their uncomfortable standing spaces, and the lights dim. Nobody normally minds the expensive pints or marching through the rain when a ticket costs £40 or so. But when people have paid up to £523 for a touted ticket, it makes for a very bitter-sweet occasion.
Karen Knight is someone who was ripped off for her tickets to a Kings of Leon gig at Hyde Park this June. But what was it that happened to Karen? Karen explained that Kings of Leon “are my son’s favourite band so I was desperate to get him tickets for his birthday… I had never heard of Viagogo but I thought it was a legitimate site. It said that tickets were selling out fast, and desperate to get the tickets I proceeded to checkout. I was fuming that two tickets cost me £235.”
With the rise in secondary ticket sites, selling tickets at inflated prices has become a commonplace in the online world. The half a billion pound industry that is ticket touting caused the resale of £5000 tickets to an Ed Sheeran charity gig in February, as well as £25,000 Adele tickets last year
– more than 100 times the face value!
“It was only once I had entered all my card details and proceeded that I realised I had been charged a £50 booking fee and VAT on top! I really wasn’t expecting to pay that much!” Admitted Karen with much frustration.
The December 2015 issue of ‘Which?’ Magazine exposed the online scandal by pointing the finger of blame at secondary ticketing websites such as Viagogo and Seatwave. These sites had been found to have suspicious ticket release patterns and to have been ignoring ticket release restrictions. However, the ‘Which?’ investigation was simply brushed under the carpet, and the scandal persists.
One person who knows all too well about ticket touters is Adam Scholey, ticketing software administrator for BH Live. “[I’m] often contacted by customers of secondary market sites whose concerns include misplaced outrage that we as the venue feel happy to charge upwards of £400 per ticket” said Adam from BH Live. “Touting is a very frustrating scenario” stated Adam, “it is nigh-on impossible for us to enforce prohibitive measures.”
So it is that real action needs to take place. Adam Scholey believes that an extension of the Ticket Touting Order, 2007 needs to be extended to cover live entertainment. Whilst that hasn’t happened yet, 2017 was kicked off by the House of Lords putting forward amendments to the Digital Economy Bill – aimed to stop the touts! The changes to the bill included jail sentences of up to a year. More recently, fines have been changed from £5000 to being unlimited for using ‘Bots’ to obtain large numbers of tickets. Ministers are expected to accept the suggestions made by Professor Michael Waterson in his report, which includes strengthening consumer rights laws. Now we have progress!
There’s also further progress being made, and that’s Twickets; a platform where fans can obtain tickets for only the face value price. “The event organiser has set the price for a specific reason…there should not be the opportunity for anyone to price others out of seeing a show” said Charlotte Peart, a Twickets spokesperson. But Charlotte thinks that even more needs to be done. Charlotte said, “There should be greater enforcement of existing legislation which forces sellers to state who they are.”
I have a strict rule…Never by a ticket off a tout”
Music fans share the same opinions of those in the ticketing industry. Kelly Gaffney, is a music fan in the true sense. Why? She’s the founder of ‘Foo Fighters UK’, one of the largest online Foo fan communities. “I have a strict rule…Never by a ticket off a tout” said Kelly passionately. Kelly reckons that “This worldwide issue will only be resolved by all parts of the entertainment industry coming together.” Kelly has a point, and whilst steps are being made by politicians and websites, zero-touting is still a long shot.
It’s hard to think of Karen, sat at home waiting for her E-ticket to arrive, whilst she remains angry and confused that she had been conned. But overshadowing Karen and her son’s excitement of their upcoming concert is the money they gave up to go. For now, it seems that the corrupt ticket touting machine will go on – and fans will pay the price.