/ Travel & Leisure

How would you change the ticket resale market?

Secondary tickets

Buying tickets? Well the days of waiting outside box offices or dispatching self-addressed envelopes are long gone. Adam Webb, of FanFair Alliance, joins us as a guest to explain why things haven’t necessarily changed for the good.

These days, tickets for gigs and festivals are mostly purchased at the click of a button, and increasingly via a mobile phone.

However, for the most in-demand events, things are often not quite so simple.

Ticket touts

At these shows, genuine fans face unfair competition from online touts who have the capability to hoover up significant volumes of tickets.

Combined with a ready-made ‘secondary’ marketplace, where tickets can be resold anonymously on platforms like Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave, then an already scarce supply is rendered scarcer.

Such is the scale of the ‘secondary’ business, that we frequently see thousands of tickets for the most popular shows listed on these sites before they have officially gone on sale.

The resale sites also carry considerable marketing weight and dominate search engine results, systematically directing would-be buyers towards touts operating on the secondary market – even when face value tickets are still available.

Seeking a solution

FanFair Alliance has received hundreds of complaints from members of the public who have mistakenly purchased a ‘resold’ ticket in the belief they were buying from a legitimate seller. As a result, back in March we published an online guide for audiences offering ten tips to beat the touts when buying music tickets online.

Many artists and their teams are fighting back too – taking preemptive measures to curb this industrial-scale rip off, and offering the facilities for genuinely unwanted tickets be resold at face value.

Ticket resales

This is something FanFair wholeheartedly endorses as we campaign for a transparent and properly functioning resale market.

And it’s also why we’re supporting Which? in its work around raising awareness to the problems with ticket resale sites and gathering case study experiences of those using ticket resale platforms.

So if you’ve recently bought tickets on platforms like Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave then please take five minutes to share your experience with Which?.

This is a guest contribution by Adam Webb of FanFair. All views expressed here are Adam’s own and not necessarily those also shared Which?.

So what have you bought resale tickets for an event before? What was your experience like?

Comments
Guest
Phil says:
2 June 2017

It is not as simple as “Ban them” in the era of secretive multinational secondary internet traders. They are profiteering on the principles of free market economics, and a fool and his money being soon parted. Surely it is worth being prepared for ticket launches and pre-sales compared to paying way above face value if a customer is that desperate for tickets.

Guest
Ian says:
5 June 2017

No because some ticket sites are sold out in minutes and the reason is because tickets are not going to genuine fans they’re being gobbled up by ticket resellers with very accomplished methods of purchasing high volumes of tickets online.

Guest
Phil says:
5 June 2017

Some. Not all. These accomplamished methods are called ticket bots. They will be banned in due course yet it won’t solve the problem. The bottom line is that the market will always exist if people are stupid/desperate enough to pay inflated prices.

Guest
Mrs Jan Byatt says:
6 June 2017

I totally agree tickets should only be for sale to genuine fans only, which is difficult to ascertain, but surely if someone is buying a large amount of tickets it should alert suspicions! I’m fed up with having to pay such high amounts of money for tickets for good seats, and I’m a genuine fan for the tickets I buy!

Guest

Attorney General of the United States of America -EricT. Schneiderman announces Findings of Investigations into Consumer Abuses in Live Entertainment Ticket Industry- quote- My office will CRACK DOWN on those who break the laws , prey on ordinary citizens and deny New Yorkers affordable access to the concerts and sporting events they Love–music to my bears and here ? HMG -not at this time -full expose : https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/ag-schneiderman-announces-findings-investigation-consumer-abuses-live-entertainment

Guest
mark says:
3 June 2017

I don’t go to ticket events, so am unable to comment, sorry.

Guest

Neither do I Mark but you dont have to apologise for it , I would rather go for country walks , more healthier —and relaxing.

Guest

Nor me. I can’t afford to pay silly prices. I very much agree with Duncan, and it is even more satisfying to organise walks and other inexpensive activities for small groups. Having said that, I very much support the efforts of Which? to stop unscrupulous companies exploiting fans.

Guest
Roger says:
3 June 2017

I go to concerts, but will never pay more than the price on the ticket, if everyone did that the ticket ripoff companies would go out of business very quickly. I also agree that a good walk in the countryside is a wonderful thing to do.

Guest
Vik says:
5 June 2017

Have never been to a ticket event either.

Guest
kerry lyons says:
3 June 2017

stop touts being able to mass purchase then sell tickets on at highly inflated prices. make it illegal to do so.

Guest
Peter Kemp says:
3 June 2017

I recall either a “Despatches” or “Panorama” programme a few years ago where an undercover reporter witnessed the call centre staff of a ticket agency purchasing tickets for an event using their own credit cards only for those same tickets to re-appear on a reseller site the agency also operated at greatly inflated prices.

There should be legislation to control re-sales limiting prices to face value plus say 2.5% handling fee

Guest

Can we not put a limit on the number of ticket’s sold to each credit card?

Guest
JK says:
3 June 2017

I think the Government should do more to stop the resale sites making such huge profits.
10% over the ticket price should be the maximum allowed, ticket ID and original value should be on the ticket.
Heavy fines and closure of web site is the only way to stop these people.
It is always the honest hard working people who suffer

Guest
Wazzer says:
3 June 2017

You are never going to stop resale of tickets, and it would be wrong to – some people genuinely can’t go. But you can do MUCH more to kerb excessive profiteering. You can limit the resale price to face value + say 50% (to cover fees etc) or force people when listing them to state the seat numbers – the big sellers such as Ticketmaster can easily check if they were bought by a person or a bot and then cancel them. Unfortunately the big sellers are part of this problem as they are participating in the practice of ripping people off so they’re just turning a blind eye and hoping it will go away. Let’s be honest it probably will go away as no one has the balls to tackle it. I mean, it’s not rocket science is it.

Guest
Claire Michael says:
3 June 2017

If nobody bought tickets from touts they would soon disappear but while you have people willing to pay £100 for a £5 ticket they will still be around. Don’t buy these tickets – simple.

Guest

I would expect the number of tickets purchased but no longer required for personal reasons to be fewer than 1% of the number sold, so how has the industry been allowed to fabricate such a vast volume of resold tickets? Not by honest endeavours, surely?

Guest
Derek W Wright says:
3 June 2017

In my eyes, anybody selling any ticket is an agent of the main vendor and therefore should not charge more than the face value. Any commission MUST come from the main vendor.

Guest
SG says:
3 June 2017

Limit the number of tickets per purchaser, and perhaps this may give more people the chance to buy .touts are bulk buying and thier markup is often daylight robbery!!!!

Guest
Peter McGregor says:
3 June 2017

I have never felt the urge, even when younger (or never had the money) to go to the sorts of concerts that attract such questionable ticketing practices. It all seems very superficial & fklakey to me. Is it me….???

Guest
Rod Hart says:
3 June 2017

This sordid business surely must pay tax so therefore do not ban them just tax them at seventy pence in the pound and put the money where it will do most good.

Guest

And how would hard-up music fans benefit from that, Rod? Ticket prices are already extortionate as it is without a crippling tax on top.

I agree with you about “this sordid business”. In my opinion it is rotten to the core from every level including the artistes, their agents, the promoters, the venues, the ticket sellers and re-sellers, the merchandise producers and sellers, the recording industry, and all the other parasites that infest the gig, festival and concert operations, and it is all about exploiting devoted fans and supporters. Government has tinkered with it but nobody has tackled it because every time one leg is pulled off the creature develops more and spits in the face of any criticism.

Guest

I frequently attend gigs and shows, and always try and buy direct from the venue/event management company. Yeah, there have been times I’ve not got the tickets I’ve wanted, but I’ve never then gone to find them elsewhere, as I operate on a personal “you snooze, you lose” philosophy (and yes, I really have set alarms to make sure I’m in with a chance).

This problem will continue as long as there are people dumb enough to pay exorbitant ticket prizes – I love my music, but no artist is worth *that* much money (sorry!!).

Guest
Norman Green says:
4 June 2017

I have never bought from these sites. It is not a fair market place. Why not ban sales of more than say, 6 tickets per purchaser/email address until again,say, 4 weeks before the event? However, I assume the way these operators work is that their computer programmes can at present, override any conditions of purchase/rules put in place.

Guest
Corporal says:
4 June 2017

If people did not buy at inflated prices then there would not be a market for the tickets. Do the purveyors of the tickets care that this is happening – I think not – in this technological age there must be a way that these sales can be controlled but the desire is not there. They must be held to account by law.

Guest

I’ll ask a naive question (I don’t use ticket resellers). Why is there not one official seller only for tickets for a particular event, theatre or whatever? If that seller polices the internet and cancels any tickets being resold – presumably they carry serial numbers, seat numbers or another unique identity? And inform all potential buyers that if they purchase through any site other than the official one the ticket will not be honoured? This leaves the question of people who buy tickets legitimately but then find they cannot use them. The official seller could take these back and, if resold, give a partial refund to the original buyer.

There will be a fatal flaw in this proposal, and someone here will point it out I’m sure.

I do have some sympathy with the supply and demand argument – if people are prepared to pay over the odds for something then should we stop them? I see a box at the Albert Hall was recently sold for £2.5 million if I remember correctly.

Guest

Again, like you Malcolm, I am not entirely sure of the arrangements, but I thought that generally there was only one official seller of tickets for an event; the problem comes with mass-purchasing and reselling. The outfits involved are possibly offshoots of the official seller, or are certainly in league with them. I think the structured release of blocks of tickets also has something to do with it. This is all part of the manipulation of demand for the maximisation of yield. Tickets on reseller sites would not be instantly available in the volumes they are at the moment booking opens if there were not collusion between the primary and the secondary seller. There might be sound commercial arguments for this sort of hedging but a lot more transparency is required to convince me that it is not a form of exploitation of the public.

Guest
John slater says:
4 June 2017

It should be outlawed!!!!!

Guest
Trevor Jones says:
4 June 2017

I will not pay over the odds for any ticket, if I miss it, that’s too bad. These touts should be stopped though but it’s like anything, if there is money to b e made there will be someone there to squeeze people.

Guest

Even paying face value is considered by many to be far too much, Trevor, but it reflects on the vanity and conceit of the artistes, their agents and the promoters. There is a price below which certain acts will not perform and the massive hype in the entertainment industry inflates and bolsters that situation. There could even be fans who would not be seen dead at an event that didn’t cost £100 to go in. It is an industry that preys on unusual emotions that it carefully conditions to be receptive. There is probably a body of psychological study on this behaviour on both sides of the line.

Guest
Paul says:
6 June 2017

I don’t believe you are being squeezed. It’s up to each and every person to decide for themselves if they’re happy to pay the price that a ticket is being sold at (or any other item for that matter).

Guest
Sunil Kapur says:
6 June 2017

I think it is quite possible to require ID to be shown at events, to prevent re-sale on secondary markets.

One very obnoxious practice is that some tickets are NEVER sold at face value. Promoters sometimes keep huge blocks of tickets, never sell them at face value and they are marketed at prices far above their face value. I do not understand why this is legal.

Harvey Goldsmith (Promoter) worked very hard to keep tickets in the hands of real fans. I think it is quite possible that a collective of promoters and global artists could take steps (e.g. provide ID, don’t withhold tickets to be sold at higher prices) to make it more difficult for touts and “legal secondary outlets” to re-sell at extortionate prices.

Guest
Paul says:
6 June 2017

The busiest indoor music venue in the world is the O2 Arena. The next O2 Arena event is Take That who will play 6 dates commencing today and finishing on 12th June. Currently, tickets can be purchased for less than face value across all dates on the secondary market. If you take Stubhub, the official re-sale market of the O2 Arena, you can currently buy tickets for take that at around 40% of face value. Unfortunately, within various campaigns and across the media, you only hear about the tickets that are listed and vastly inflated prices. The same campaigners are not keen to report that the majority of tickets on secondary sites are sold BELOW face value. Something that was identified by Professor Waterson in the government review into secondary ticketing.

Guest
Joan Mearman says:
6 June 2017

These sites should be monitored so they sell them at face value plus postage and nothing more. If this happened then more people would be able to buy them straight from the venues at the correct price.
Why do they want to buy these tickets so they can rip off the public it should not be allowed.

Guest
Kettlehead says:
7 June 2017

Why do we have re-sell sites at all? We only need a single official sales website for a particular event where we buy the tickets, and then just pick them up at the venue – a bit like a train ticket – from a ticket collection machine.
If you need to cancel you do so at the single website (full refund if done a reasonable amount of time before the event) and the tickets can be made available for resale immediately. No more touts. Simples!

Guest
Richard Hambridge says:
10 June 2017

I’ve never used them – nor do I intend to.

But then, I’ve never bought tickets to a concert, etc. !

Guest
colin says:
10 June 2017

My niece who lives in Australia, Purchased two tickets for the 2015 rugby world cup from what she thought was a re-seller site. turned out it was a scam site & she lost nearly $1000 Australian

Guest
Doug Cliffe says:
20 July 2017

Your article in the current issue of Which (August 2017) has clarified why I got stung when buying tickets for June’s Guns and Rosea concert. I ended up paying three times the original ticket price from Viagogo. It won’t happen again. Thanks,
Doug

Guest
Jo says:
20 July 2017

I think I must have hit lucky with viagogo site as got tickets for 02 tennis finals cheaper than ticket price fantastic seats 5 rows back – much better seat than the one I had for final day and paid more for through normal outlet – think you really have to check out what you’re paying for before you buy ….

Guest

Today the CMA have announced that secondary ticketing websites will be facing a severe crackdown: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2017/11/secondary-ticketing-websites-are-breaking-the-law/

Guest

I wouldn’t use the word “severe” to describe the new measures. Seems nothing of the sort.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
28 November 2017

Agreed. The article is very short of detail as to why it is severe. Seems to me simply saying some legal requirements are being ignored and that it is going to get antsy about it.

As for solving the situation of secondary ticketing as a business detrimental to consumers there is nothing to suggest any action on that.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
28 November 2017

I see this company is still head of the monthly complaints chart in NSW -they have form:
“27 August 2017

Consumers have been warned about using online ticket reseller Viagogo after a flurry of complaints, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean announced today. Mr Kean said this year alone NSW Fair Trading had received 187 consumer complaints, and 237 enquiries, about the Swiss-based ticket exchange platform.

“Complaints to date have included delayed delivery, events being cancelled, heavily marked-up prices, hidden fees, and failure to provide refunds,” he said.“With most complaints relating to two or more tickets, Fair Trading has estimated around 600 consumers have been ripped off at a cost of almost $130,000.

“This is simply not good enough, when consumers buy a product they rightly expect to get what they pay for.“I’m putting consumers first and that’s why I’m issuing an urgent public warning about Viagogo’s unfair and unsatisfactory business services and practices.”

Mr Kean said Fair Trading had made more than 194 attempts to contact Viagogo to discuss the complaints, which had gone vastly unanswered until notice of the public warning was given.

Viagogo has also appeared on Fair Trading’s monthly Complaints Register eight times between November 2016 and July 2017, and was in the top five most complained about traders on five occasions.

“Viagogo says it will be more responsive in future; however, consumers should read all conditions carefully, and make credit card payments so they can claim a chargeback if necessary,” Mr Kean said.

“Until Viagogo adopts a more cooperative and professional approach, consumers are urged to be cautious using their website, and always check for available event tickets through an authorised primary ticket seller.”
For more information, go to http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20.

Seems to me that as it is Swiss based one can be more robust than for an EU firm. I am left wondering if a failure to respond to an in-depth investigation could warrant any punitive action.

However in the scheme of things if people wish to pay over the odds …..

Perhaps Which? and the CMA could concentrate on the bigger consumer problem of unfair leases and the major builders acting in concert.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
28 November 2017

I see this company is still head of the monthly complaints chart in NSW -they have form:
“27 August 2017

Consumers have been warned about using online ticket reseller Viagogo after a flurry of complaints, Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean announced today. Mr Kean said this year alone NSW Fair Trading had received 187 consumer complaints, and 237 enquiries, about the Swiss-based ticket exchange platform.

“Complaints to date have included delayed delivery, events being cancelled, heavily marked-up prices, hidden fees, and failure to provide refunds,” he said.“With most complaints relating to two or more tickets, Fair Trading has estimated around 600 consumers have been ripped off at a cost of almost $130,000.

“This is simply not good enough, when consumers buy a product they rightly expect to get what they pay for.“I’m putting consumers first and that’s why I’m issuing an urgent public warning about Viagogo’s unfair and unsatisfactory business services and practices.”

Mr Kean said Fair Trading had made more than 194 attempts to contact Viagogo to discuss the complaints, which had gone vastly unanswered until notice of the public warning was given.

Viagogo has also appeared on Fair Trading’s monthly Complaints Register eight times between November 2016 and July 2017, and was in the top five most complained about traders on five occasions.

“Viagogo says it will be more responsive in future; however, consumers should read all conditions carefully, and make credit card payments so they can claim a chargeback if necessary,” Mr Kean said.

“Until Viagogo adopts a more cooperative and professional approach, consumers are urged to be cautious using their website, and always check for available event tickets through an authorised primary ticket seller.”
For more information, go to fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call 13 32 20.

Seems to me that as it is Swiss based one can be more robust than for an EU firm. I am left wondering if a failure to respond to an in-depth investigation could warrant any punitive action.

However in the scheme of things if people wish to pay over the odds …..

Perhaps Which? and the CMA could concentrate on the bigger consumer problem of unfair leases and the major builders acting in concert.

Guest

The rip-off comes because currently re-sold tickets can be sold at a profit. This is taken advantage of by bulk-buying of tickets to explicitly re-sell. Genuine consumers are being taken advantage of. The key to cleaning up the market is to make it illegal to re-sell tickets at more than the face value of the ticket.

There are times where people buy a ticket to an event and then find out they are unable to attend. These people should be able to re-sell the ticket, but for no more than they paid for it in the first place. Indeed, most people with a genuine reason to re-sell would expect to make a small loss on any such transaction.

Guest

I quite agree. The number of tickets genuinely offered for reselling should be in very low percentages of the total number of available seats. The market has been systematically rigged.