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Ticket abuse in UK – some interesting things

At oral evidence Josh Franceschi said that fans are heading to primary ticket websites only to see that the shows or concerts are labelled as sold out, when often they are not, and they have to pay hiked-up prices on the secondary websites. He underlined the need of transparency as to who the primary seller is, because most of the secondary ticket websites in search are listed higher than the primary ticket websites.

McAndrew brought example, when they recorded that thousands of tickets for Take That’s up and coming tour appeared on resale sites before any presales even started. The moment presales did start, obviously hundreds more tickets appeared on those websites. McAndrew agreed with Franceschi pointing that “it is a very distorted market caused by a lack of transparency and the ability for brokers and touts to harvest huge amounts of tickets – using bots and other means – which deprives fans of acquiring tickets at face value.” For example, it is illegal to resell tickets in Quebec. There is evidence that tickets are being transferred direct from the primary to the secondary market.

According to McAndrew, most venues in the UK enter into exclusive box office arrangements, typically with a ticket agent. The terms of that agreement commonly provide that the ticket agent receives a certain quantity of tickets. There is a quantity that is then given to the artist to service fan clubs or fan pre-sales. However, the venue is possibly also in commercial arrangements with sponsors and other parties who may also receive allocations of tickets. The amount of tickets that then go on sale at a general on-sale can be unknown for artist and his manager. The price is set generally in consultation with the promoter and the artist.

Annabella Coldrick proposed to enforce the law, consumer rights legislation. For example, to show seat and row numbers on tickets. They are not always shown. If they are shown, then, if the artist and manager have made a clear statement, as part of the terms and conditions, that those tickets must not be resold, you can cancel them. For example, in New York the bots have been banned.

Coldrick also believes it is about responsibility for the platforms. A platform is not purely a neutral player in this. They are helping to connect. They often suggest prices that you should potentially list the tickets for, so they are not neutral and they do have a responsibility. She thinks they have a corporate responsibility to declare who is selling and verifying it and to allow anyone to look at who those businesses are and where they are getting their tickets from.

One of the ways to make ticket market more transparent would be illegalizing of bots. Also names could be stated on ticket. If the ticket is named you should go with ID. So, if ticket is personalised it is not transferable. But there can be situation, where someone who legitimately cannot go to a show has an opportunity to resell their tickets at face value or less. There also should be provided solution to the issue of exchanging tickets for shows purchaser of a ticket can no longer go to.