Column: It'll take more than Ed Sheeran to nail secondary ticket rip-offs
It looks like the fight back against legalised ticket touts is starting to gain some traction.
Concert fans have been taken for mugs for too long by secondary ticketing sites such as Get Me In, and Viagogo.
But we are only half way towards a solution.
Last week Ed Sheeran played Hampden Park, and his management team took on the scalpers by cancelling every single ticket bought from any source other than its own re-sale partner.
That made Viagogo – their nemesis – legally responsible for giving refunds. So far so good.
Sheeran’s team also offered any victims the opportunity to buy a replacement ticket for £150, and they had ‘Victim of Viagogo’ help desks set up outside the venues.’ All good customer service.
But what if you couldn’t afford to fork out for another ticket while waiting on Viagogo to return your cash? For me, that’s where it gets a bit woolly.
To get into Sheeran’s gig you also needed four forms of ID which smacked a bit of overkill.
Going to a gig should be exciting, life-affirming, even life changing – so we need to sort and make it much simpler.
I’ll applaud Sheeran for his stance against legalised touts, but only up to a point.
He is a huge name, and he has a management team with the clout to call the shots.
The reality is the whole industry has to act.
Organisations such as Get Me In and Viagogo are simply market places where fans can buy and sell tickets to gigs and major sports events.
That sounds couthy when in fact the reality is they play you like a fiddle, and dangle a ticket in front of you. Just click, close your eyes at the brutal charges, and you too will be there.
In that respect, they are no different to the touts with pony-tales who lurk around the doors of every stadium gig I’ve ever been to.
I’ve used both.
The first ticket I ever bought off a tout got me into a Whitesnake gig at the Playhouse in Edinburgh circa 1983. Two years ago, I paid face value to a tout outside Hampden Park to get into see Bruce Springsteen.
Get Me In CAN work too– my ticket to see Springsteen at Wembley was bought a week before the gig and at little more than face value. Had I given into tempation after the ‘sold out’ signs went up, it would have set me back £350.
I’ve also missed gigs because I wouldn’t pay the asking price – official or unofficial.Those are decisons we all have to make.
But we do need a fundamental change to the re-sale market.
As long as the laws of supply and demand exist, it won’t go away – so it has to be much fairer.
We have to stop companies like Viagogo hoovering up tickets within seconds of them going on sale and immediately selling them with ludicrously inflated price tags – that is a rip-off.
Sheeran and performers such as Adele, have started that process, but it now needs to be tackled properly.
The simplest solution is to make it law that all tickets can only be re-sold at face value with modest, clearly stated charges. Is that too difficult to set in stone?