Ticket touts are parasites who contribute nothing to the development of culture

The time has come for ministers to stop standing up for their interests, and to put ordinary fans first.

Sharon Hodgson is Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West and shadow minister for women and equalities

The sight of £25 tickets to one of the Monty Python comeback shows going for a minimum of £150 on secondary sites (plus a huge 15 per cent buyer fee, £10 postage and VAT on top) is the latest to attract the attention of the press.

The touting of Wimbledon, Albert Hall and Chelsea Flower Show tickets always elicits a few headlines as well, as do the odd over-subscribed exhibition (David Bowie’s bein the most recent).

But these spikes in interest mask the fact that fans are losing out to touts every single week for gigs and shows up and down the country.

Ticket touting is self-evidently bad for fans with limited means, pricing them out of many events, and squeezing their bank account when they absolutely have to go at all costs.

But ticket touting is bad for event holders as well.

Every young fan priced out of going to see the next up and coming band is a potential lost fan.

Every fan who pays four times face value for one ticket is a fan who probably won’t go to more gigs until they’ve saved up again, and won’t feel like spending on merchandise on the night or afterwards.

And every family priced out of a rugby match means one or more children who aren’t inspired by seeing professionals play up close, and therefore may not develop a love of the game and go on to play or patronise it throughout their life.

That’s why event holders price their tickets below the level they know they could go far on the secondary market – they want to foster and develop relationships with fans new and old.

For some it’s purely for the economic reasons – for others, it’s the romantic idea that art and cultural activities should be accessible to as many people as possible. Either way, those who are holding an event should be able to ensure that touts don’t undermine their efforts.

Ticket touts

The lack of transparency in the secondary market also means that it can often be used as a front for criminal activity. The Metropolitan Police highlighted the problem earlier this year, while advocating for the government to take action to regulate the market, and just months later it emerged that large scale ticket fraud had been allowed to be perpetrated through the major secondary websites.

The Police also found links between touting and organised criminal networks; understandable given that it provides such a profitable method of laundering money. If for no other reason, the government needs to act to choke off this source of finance for gangs involved in much more harmful crimes.

The upcoming Consumer Rights Bill provides the perfect opportunity for the government to bring about the transparency and regulation the market so desperately needs, and I’ll be campaigning with colleagues from across the House for them to do so.

But ministers have had the perfect opportunity before, when I tabled my Bill in 2010, and they could have done it at any time since then. That they haven’t shows they still don’t get the extent to which this practice is damaging to the creative sector, even after the Police have told them as much.

The secondary websites all have slick PR operations and a united voice in championing their own interests. We need the music and live event industry to be equally united in pushing for protection for their fans, and for that matter their own intellectual property.

Last year, France passed a very similar law to the one I’ve been campaigning for.

Their legislators did this, in large part, because Prodiss, the French association of live event promoters and venues, spearheaded a strong public campaign, which culminated in 100 artists co-signing a call for action which was published as a full-page advert in every newspaper.

A similar campaign here – led by household names rather than a handful of MPs – could hopefully convince more MPs, and maybe even eventually the government, that protecting ordinary fans from being ripped off was the right thing to do.

Ticket touts are parasites who contribute nothing to the development of culture in the UK, yet in many cases make more money out of one ticket than an artist or event organiser does.

The time has come for ministers to stop standing up for their interests, and to put ordinary fans first.

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9 Responses to “Ticket touts are parasites who contribute nothing to the development of culture”

  1. Boston_scoundrel

    It’s not necessary to change the law. If venues and promoters want to stop secondary ticket sales, they can do it tomorrow. All they need to do is personalise tickets to ensure that they cannot be transferred. Glastonbury Festival has done it and there is no secondary market in their tickets.

  2. swatnan

    Tickets should only be released to purchasers 3 hours before the actual event so that no transfers for profit can be made. Or, you could have ticket that spontaneously combust on any attempt to transfer.

  3. Frances R

    Bots are also used to buy up good seats for concerts, particularly by ticket brokers who resell the tickets. Bots are employed against entertainment event-ticketing sites, like TicketMaster.com. The bots are used by ticket brokers to unfairly obtain the best seats for themselves while depriving the general public from also having a chance to obtain the good seats. The bot runs through the purchase process and obtains better seats by pulling as many seats back as it can.

  4. Dave Roberts

    Supply and demand, simple as that.

  5. Jim Fearnley

    A criminal petit-bourgeois is still a petit-bourgeois, only more directly parasitical in many cases.

  6. Adele Bailey

    The cost is prohibitive for most. Glastonbury is a £200 festival, that is once a year.

  7. Boston_scoundrel

    I dont buy that for a moment. How much extra would it cost Ticketmaster or Seetickets to print the purchaser’s name and address on a ticket? Pennies….

  8. Adele Bailey

    But we arent talking ticket master or See are we. And these 2 companies are two of the worst for selling tickets and owning secondary ticketing sites. Most independent venues / promoters can not afford the extra costs.

  9. Boston_scoundrel

    But the problem is with high demand tickets for large venues, which are usually sold through the likes of Ticketmaster and Seetickets. How big a problem is touting for Half Man Half Biscuit shows at the Holmfirth Picturehouse?

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