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It's a Tout-rage!

15th March 2011

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This year, tickets for the ever-popular V Festival went on sale at 9am on Friday 4th March. By 9.03, tickets became available on eBay for more than twice their face value.

This is far from an isolated incident.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy tickets for any popular gig, thanks to a huge influx in ticket touts choosing to make a quick buck by taking advantage of genuine music fans. Tickets to concerts are expensive enough as it is, especially after mysterious ‘booking fees’ and ‘transaction fees’ add a substantial amount to the
face value of a ticket.  Also, with many mainstream acts choosing to put on spectacular visual shows as well as performing their greatest hits, ticket prices are hitting extortionate new heights without touts charging upwards of double their face value.

Last year, I went to see Lady Gaga. After the legitimate site that I booked my tickets through added a multitude of fees to the price, I handed over £73 for the privilege. Was it worth it? Of course it was, this is Gaga we’re talking about. However, it probably wasn’t worth £250, which is what some touts were flogging the same tickets for on eBay less than ten minutes after they were released by legitimate sites.  How is this even remotely fair on the thousands of fans who were sat at their computers at 9am in the morning, desperately refreshing the page,  only to find all sites completely clogged up by an endless amount of ticket touts?  As a student, I could not possibly afford to pay the extortionate sums of money these ‘entrepreneurs’ are charging for second hand tickets – but clearly some people can, and all the while people continue to buy from them, touts will continue to sell.

A method of combating ticket touting is long overdue. Glastonbury Festival is one event that has successfully taken steps to stamp out re-sale of tickets, by introducing a registration system where punters must upload their details, including a colour photograph, onto the site before tickets go on sale. When tickets are purchased, they are printed with the ticket-holder’s name who must then show proof of ID before being allowed entry to the site. This has successfully prevented touting of Glastonbury tickets – if you search for them on eBay, you will not return one single result, compared with over seven hundred results for V Festival.

But it’s not just concerts and festivals that suffer from touting – sports events are also constantly targeted, and with the 2012 Olympics approaching fast, it seemed like touts would be able to make enough cash to retire. That is, until the government stepped in, and introduced a whopping £20,000 fine for anyone caught touting tickets for the event.  Although this may very well serve as a harsh warning, it is vital that the government enforces this rule with a zero-tolerance policy if the touts are really to be taught a lesson.

A few months ago, I bought four tickets to see Take That, when I only really needed two. This left me with a choice: sell my second pair on eBay and cover the cost of my own (extremely expensive) tickets, or offer them to friends for face value so that they too can enjoy the show. I wonder if you can guess which option I chose?

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