Monday, 19 January 2015

It’s a rip-off

Have you ever tried to buy tickets for a sporting event or a pop concert only to find that all the tickets have been sold out in a few minutes? 

Have you then discovered that they’ve suddenly re-appeared for sale at an extortionate mark-up on a different website?

Ticket touts – with their links to organised crime - now use ‘botnet’ technology - computer programmes which work by inundating ticket providers with thousands of electronic requests at the same time, to buy tickets en masse. They also hide behind the anonymity of resale sites to avoid accountability for selling on tickets which have a proviso that they are not for re-sale.

For example:

·         all 20,000 tickets for Monty Python’s reunion performance sold out in 45 seconds, only to reappear on the secondary market at more than 15 times their face value;
·         concerts by the Stone Roses at Heaton Park were being advertised on secondary ticketing websites for more than £1,000 after tickets had sold out, having had an original value of £55.
·         In September 2015, the Rugby World Cup is the third biggest sporting event (based on global TV reach) this year with 20 nations playing a total of 48 games. Tickets for the Final as sold by the Rugby Football Union officially range from £150- £715, but are already being offered on secondary sites for over £1,100.
As well as sport and music fans wanting not to be ripped-off by these touts, there is massive support for change across all political parties and from the major sports bodies, cultural institutes and music industry representatives.

So, what do you think this coalition government thinks about this?

Sajid Javed, now the Conservative Secretary of State for Culture has said:

"Ticket resellers act like classic entrepreneurs, because they fill a gap in the market that they have identified. They provide a service that can help people who did not obtain a supply of tickets in the original sale to purchase them for sporting and cultural events. As long as those tickets have been acquired genuinely and lawfully, it is an honest transaction, and there should be no Government restriction on someone's ability to sell them."

He went on to dismiss a longstanding anti touting campaigner:
The interests …. are probably those of the chattering middle classes and champagne socialists, who have no interest in helping the common working man earn a decent living by acting as a middleman in the sale of a proper service.”

The government says it has “……no plans to introduce new regulations on the secondary ticket market".

I think the Culture Secretary and the government are completely out-of-touch with ordinary fans and families. That’s why I am supporting the calls of an all-party parliamentary group to change the law. 

The changes propose that websites which re-sell tickets must provide information about the identity of the seller, all relevant information about the ticket, including the face value, restrictions on the ticket, location of the seat where relevant, the booking identification or reference number and whether the ticket is being sold in contravention of terms and conditions agreed by the original purchaser. Websites would also have to immediately remove tickets from sale when the event organisers informed them that the relevant information was inaccurate or incomplete.

I’m happy to help put fans first by kicking the touts in to touch.