Monday, March 08, 2010

Kick it tout! The Ticket Factory takes a stand!

I’m not one for moaning for no reason (well, maybe I am, but not in this case) but ticket touts (by which I mean people who buy tickets for gigs with the sole intention of ripping people off by charging three or four times their face value) really, really get on my nerves. Whilst they may witter on about free enterprise and meeting demand let’s cut the crap here, they take tickets off genuine fans who want to go to gigs. Okay, they might sell them on to genuine fans (albeit genuine fans with more money than sense) but they only care about the cash. And boy, these people are making some serious wedge. Let’s take the recent Flight of the Conchords gig. Within minutes of these tickets being released there were dozens on ebay, Seatwave, Getmein etc at up to four times the face value. Some of these sellers had 20 or more listings for various gigs. You do the math. Oh alright then, I will. Let’s say the tickets had a face value of £30 and they were being sold on for a modest £90 each, that’s £60 profit per ticket x 20 listings x two tickets per listing...that’s er...hold on...good grief...£2,400. A nice little earner eh? Pay tax on that do you? Nah, I didn’t think so.

To be honest the touts don’t often have a direct impact on me, many of the gigs I go to are for up and coming bands who are still under the tout radar....until the Flight of the Concords gig that is. My other half is a huge fan. Being the lovely man that I am I said I’d try to get tickets for her. At 8.58 there I was online, ready and waiting. At 9am the bun fight began and the gig sold out in minutes. I couldn’t even get access to the website. Gutted. I waited a bit then tried again. By a stroke of luck some tickets became available (I guess some credit cards were rejected or something like that). The only trouble was that they were for something called a Lounge Package at a wallet busting £77.50 each (+ ‘transaction fee’ of course). So it was going to cost...wait for it...£156.70 to see the gig. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s quite a lot of money to me. Still I had it (just) and knowing that ‘er indoors would be distraught if she missed the gig I coughed up. After checking on ebay I came across a whole bunch of tickets obviously being sold by professional touts (people who had sold hundreds...in some cases thousands of tickets before). Incensed I penned an email to The Ticket Factory (the official ticket agency for the NIA who I’d purchased my tickets through). To be honest I’d not expected a reply but, heavens be praised, they did get back to me and said that whilst they don’t condone the resale of tickets (it goes against the terms and conditions printed on their tickets too) it wasn’t actually illegal. They were, however, in the process of tracking down and cancelling the orders of those who were touting these tickets and had found me a pair of better seats without the ‘Lounge Package’ premium. Now that’s what I call a result. I’ve said it once (so have thousands of other frustrated music/theatre/sports fans) and I’ll say it again, this issue needs to be addressed. I don’t want young / poor /genuine fans priced out of certain gigs just so someone can make a wedge by ripping people off. Ultimately the solution lies with the venues and (genuine) agencies but we can all do our bit by not buying from the touts. They’re creating and meeting the demand in the first place. Don’t buy from them and they won’t exist. Some hope I know (if you really want to see a gig and you have the cash you’re not going to listen to me are you?). But with online touting seemingly getting more and more popular and out of hand if we don’t all take a stand you too could find yourself priced out of a gig or event one day soon...

A big thank you to The Ticket Factory for helping me out and for taking action on this. If you find yourself in a similar situation may I suggest that you draw the original agent’s attention to the touts in question and ask them to withdraw and relist the tickets. The respectable and responsible agencies will do so.

7 comments:

Ken Davidson said...

I want to know how the touts get the tickets, when you had such difficulty even sitting there primed before the kick-off.

Advance block orders? A mate within the organisation getting kickbacks? Or just a dedicated team of opportunists with very fast broadband and multiple connections each?

The Baron said...

I'm guessing all of the above. It wasn't like this when I was a lad. I well remember (cue Hovis style ad music) going in to HMV to buy Glastonbury tickets just a few weeks before the event (I think Al Jolson was playing that year). Now you need nerves of steel and hyper super mega speed broadband to stand a chance (plus deeeeeep pockets...have you seen how much some gigs cost these days?).

Greg Williams said...

I've been ranting about this too today. Makes me so cross!
http://gregwilliamslabour.blogspot.com/

The Baron said...

Thanks Greg. Let's hope you get elected then! I'll be watching you!

There are some touts on ebay with nearly 4,000 feedback results (seemingly all from ticket sales). That's a huge volume. It really isn't fair to the bands, venues, fans, tax payers...stamp it out and you will have the undying gratitude (and votes) of thousands of people! Good luck.

The Insider said...

The professional touts are not at their computers at 9am, they are well in with the promoters and their blocks of prime seats are pre-arranged. These 're-sale' sites just allow us all to be amateur touts, while the Govt & CPA (Concert Promoters Assoc.) talk reform and do nothing.

The Baron said...

I'm sure you're right Insider - like you say there's a lot of talk about this issue but no action. The only 'power' that ordinary people have is the power to refuse to buy from any kind of tout. But, whilst some are willing and able to pay vastly inflated prices, this isn't much cop is it? I guess too many people are making too much money out of this scam for anything to change...I just know that I ain't going to contribute to keeping it going, that's all any of us can really do isn't it?

Sarah said...

There are some sites saying that The Ticket Factory is a scam and it does seem weird that their ticket prices are the same as the face value price for sold out events. However, other sites say it is legitimate. Has anybody actually received their tickets?