Welcome changes but ticket touts will still find a way

Ticketmaster are to close its two ticket re-sale websites Seatwave and Get Me In.
Ticketmaster are to close its two ticket re-sale websites Seatwave and Get Me In.

The announcement this week that ticket selling firm Ticketmaster is to scrap its two secondary ticket websites will, no doubt, be music to the ears of many long suffering fans who have missed seeing their favourite acts.

But if fans think this sounds the death knell for ticket touts, they’d better think again.

This latest development is just the opening note in what must be a concerted effort to rid the market of unscrupulous sell-for-profit outfits, in a market for years populated with ‘professional sellers’ seemingly flourishing untouched at the expense of genuine fans.

Most of us have been there at some point, left frustrated at not being able to buy tickets to see your favourite band, comedian or show, only to find that hundreds, if not thousands, of tickets appear instantly on reselling sites, often at vastly inflated prices.

This week’s announcement to close down Seatwave and Get Me In websites must be welcomed, but, I fear, will change little in the short term.

Sites like ebay-owned StubHub and Viagogo, the company that in 2012 was found to be directly supplied with tickets by promoters bypassing fans and in favour of being resold at inflated prices, will continue to operate and thrive.

But the question remains: will the move make it any safer for fans?

At least buyers had the safeguard of being able to get thir money back.

Ticketmaster, will from October, have a fan-to-fan ticket exchange with sales capped at 15 per cent to allow genuine fans who can’t go to sell tickets and cover the excess paid in booking and administrative fees.

But why not ban the sale of tickets over the face value all together?

It’s thought unlikely that the UK will take the same line that Ireland recently took in its decision to introduce a bill that makes selling tickets above face value an offence.

There’s been no mention of identifying the ticket buying ‘bots’ - the computer software purchased by touts for just a few hundred £s, to make multiple purchases at the same time as tickets go on sale allowing them to sweep up all the best tickets before fans, then instantly offering them for resale, often at four and five times the original price.

All a far cry from the pre-internet days of dodgy wideboys risking arrest while as they stood on street corners shouting: “I’ll buy any spares,“ while offering handfuls of paper tickets to anyone willing to pay over the odds at the football or a concert.

Meanwhile, some will argue that as long as the tickets have not been acquired illegally then what’s the problem if seller responds to market forces and takes a punt on selling to those willing to pay at any cost to attend.

Only time will tell if this announcement is mere PR spin on behalf of Ticketmaster, who have for so long been accused themselves of fleecing the public with its fees and additional costs.

Time now for the government to take a serious look at the whole industry of ticket sales and make it reasonable for all, once and for all.