T is for Trouble: the dark world of ticket touting

T is for Trouble: the dark world of ticket touting

After a petition against ticket touting picked up 80,000 signatures, Lucy Milburn tackles the thorny issue of touts:

Ticket touting: the bane of every music/theatre/sports fan’s life. Sure, it can be a quick fix if you’re willing to splash out for those last-minute events, but industrial-level secondary ticketing is extremely damaging to both artists and their fans. Demand certainly trumps supply in the popular events sector, so there will always be a thriving market and high profit margins on the resale of tickets. However, your classic high street harasser has recently manifested into a menace of the hi-tech variety, using software known as ‘bots’ to harvest thousands of tickets as soon as they become available to the public. The likes of Stubhub, Viagogo and Seatwave are always lingering at the top of your Google search, waiting for the naïve fan to redivert their money into the back pocket of a tout. The recent Drake situation is a prime example – ‘One Dance’ suddenly doesn’t sound so banging when you’ve paid £100+ for your disappointing seat.

‘Hamilton is gracing the West End stage in October 2017, and there is already apprehension about how fans are going to secure those gold dust tickets.’

The issue of ticket touting is a clear cause for concern. Broadway giant Hamilton is gracing the West End stage in October 2017, and there is already apprehension about how fans are going to secure those gold dust tickets. Headlines were made across the pond about the extreme inflation of Hamilton tickets on the US secondary market, and this will surely be repeated in England with the current state of legislation protecting the fans.

Over the past six months, a petition has been circulating to ‘enforce the Consumer Rights Act to protect music, arts and sports fans from touts’, but it only received 83,220 of the 100,000 signatures required.

The Consumer Rights Act was launched on 27th May 2015. It aimed to ensure that all traders were obliged to provide relevant information and clear identification in the hope that these measures would bring transparency to sales and protection to customers. The petition was backed by big names in both the theatre and music world, but it failed to have the desired effect. In hindsight, the petition should have been publicised more effectively, as there are undoubtedly millions of fans who are unaware that they can act against the unnecessary inflation of ticket prices.

‘There are undoubtedly millions of fans who are unaware that they can act against the unnecessary inflation of ticket prices.’

So what should be done about these troublesome touts? MP Sharon Hodgson is championing the cause with her #PutFansFirst campaign. She proposes placing caps on ticket reselling so that tickets can’t be resold for over 10% of face value, but this would be a massive blow to the lucrative industry. There are also calls to make touting a criminal offence in the arts world. It is currently illegal to tout football tickets and the 2012 Olympics also outlawed exploitation on the secondary sales market. Recent success in Parliament is also looking promising. MP Nigel Adams proposed a renewed effort in the criminalisation of ticket touts and this received a positive response from Mrs May. Let’s hope that we’ll soon be able to get our hands on those precious tickets without maxing out our student loans.

Lucy Milburn

(Image courtesy of Richard Isaac)

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