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Industry figures comment on secondary ticketing review, as public consultation closes

By | Published on Thursday 19 November 2015

Houses Of Parliament

Just in time for the deadline for submissions to the latest government review of secondary ticketing, here comes Harvey Goldsmith with his view on the matter.

Actually, this submission was to BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’ programme, but I think he’s posted something off to the government too. Anyway, he reckons that secondary ticketing websites are “a national disgrace”.

As previously reported, this new review of the secondary ticketing market by the Department Of Culture, Media & Sport was announced last month. Some regulation of said market was introduced as part of the Consumer Rights Act at the end of the last parliament. That legislation also said a review of consumer protection measures in the secondary ticketing domain should follow the act becoming law. And so here we are.

Goldsmith pointed out that tickets for recent O2 Arena shows, which already had an utterly ridiculous face value price of £182 (he didn’t say “utterly ridiculous”, but that really was the primary ticketing price) were selling for £3000 on resale sites. Therefore, he said: “We’re asking the government to pass a law which says you cannot sell a ticket for more than 10% of its face value”.

Another problem with the secondary market, of course – and one of the issues highlighted in that recent Which? report on the online touting game – is that in some cases people are spending money on tickets which have already been cancelled by promoters who saw them on a resale site (reselling usually breaches the ticket’s terms and conditions), or which never even existed in the first place.

“We had an event this year where 27 people bought tickets on a secondary platform”, Paul Reed of the Association Of Independent Festivals told ‘Front Row’. “They showed up at the festival and the secondary ticketing platform had essentially facilitated the sale of a piece of paper. It wasn’t worth anything. The secondary platforms weren’t contactable, they weren’t accountable. But these tickets were fraudulent”.

Ticketmaster says that protections in place on its Get Me In and Seatwave sites mean incidents of fraud like this are actually quite rare. Though this is far from the only issue.

“We don’t want to stop people reselling tickets”, says former manager and founder of primary ticketing service Dice, Phil Hutcheon. “There’s lots of situations where fans can’t make a show and want to pass the tickets on to another fan. Our thing is that, when someone is buying dozens or thousands of tickets and reselling them and distorting the market, that’s a real issue. And they can get away with it because no one knows who’s doing it”.

Because, although the Consumer Rights Act added new rules ordering that information about tickets being resold online be displayed, the government stopped short of forcing secondary sites to reveal the identity of the seller. Which is a move some are pushing for, though it would likely reveal that at least some of those involved in industrial-level reselling come from within the music industry.

The public consultation on the matter closes tomorrow (20 Nov), so get your submissions in quick. We’ll be making ours via this week’s CMU Podcast, out tomorrow too.

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