Ticket scandal (or how do ticket resellers get away with it?)
Bought tickets to a gig recently? Pleased with the price you paid? Or did you miss out on something when they went on sale only to find they were massively above face value at the online stops you made to try and track some down?
Keith Goldhanger did and it bothered him. It bothered him a lot. And he didn’t get any less bothered by the fact lots of his favourite music publications were advertising these ticket resellers and therefore giving some legitimacy to the practice. Including Louder Than War briefly.
A couple of weeks ago, when we upgraded the website, we ended up with an advert for Seatwave on the site. Seatwave are one of the sites that do these expensive tickets. The advert appearing was out of our hands and it took a few days to take it down. We are not against adverts on the site- obviously we would rather we didn’t have to have them to survive but we can’t do all this stuff and lose money and we don’t want to charge the readers to come onto the site … what do you think about all of this, comments please!
SIR ! SIR ! I’ve got a question !! – coughs loudly, puts hand up SIR ! SIR! ….nothing…..
“If there’s anything you’re not sure of just ask”…. How many time have we heard that ?- Right….
Imagine living in a place where there’s only one shop and you go there one evening to buy a pint of milk and the shopkeeper wants a fiver for it (if you’re reading this Ronnie Corbett, you can ‘ave this). You look stunned and ask why? It is explained to you that all the 50p ones have sold out and these are pints that people bought earlier in the day and no longer need.
Before uttering the first syllable of “bastard” you are then told that this isn’t illegal, people have just sold them back to the shop. The pints of milk at the front of the fridge now cost Â£25 quid (so you’re effectively “getting a bargain”) and now you can either spend a fiver to “cover all the inconvenience these people have caused” or piss off and find a cow.
OK, not the perfect analogy, but read on…
It dawned on me recently that it might be a nice thing to go and see the XX in Brixton in December. I’m not really bothered if I go or not but I am actually prepared to shell out the Â£22 quid or whatever it is once I’ve added a quid or two for booking a ticket and getting it posted to me (or sent to me via email to print out!)
I’m not part of the XX “fan club”, or whatever the equivalent is called nowadays, and I’m not getting up at 9am to refresh happily away in order to punch the air as though I’ve actually WON some tickets when It’s finally my turn to put my debit card details in. So, I’m not concerned that those people that are going, probably got first dibs – maybe even the day before the morning that they went on sale because they were on a fans list or whatever. I’ve no problem with that.
But here’s what’s giving me the HUMP. AGAIN. Because it happens a lot. And I’m using the example of the XX gig only because I thought about going to the gig – I could name Mumford and Sons or Muse….the list is endless and applies to many bands fortunate enough to be as popular as this …and things like V festival, and Reading Festival amongst others (but NOT Glastonbury) – sometimes it also applies to gigs that haven’t even sold out.
No one in this world has been able to explain this to me. I’ve asked. I still don’t understand.
So here goes….
When I went back to the website that told me that this band were doing some gigs I noticed that they were all sold out, “NOT AVAILABLE” it says in the column named “SEE TICKETS”.Â Gig has “sold out”.Â NO PROBLEM it happens, they’re popular, been on the telly etc (see above).
But it’s the column next to this that I want to ask about. The one that’s named “VIAGOGO” that have a lot of tickets available “from Â£60.00″ .
Here’s the link and when you go there KAPPOW!!!!!!! There they are…rather a lot of them – “from Â£60.00″, or if you’re feeling really flush right up to Â£177.37! For the same standing position in the venue! Whoopie Bloody doooo! Ain’t that brill?
We can now get tickets for almost anything we want nowadays, eh? Especially us lot in London who have spare cash coming out of our ears. Isn’t the internet great!
No longer do we have to visit the venue to buy sold out tickets from “a shady character outside, or an auction website with ‘no guarantee they get what they paid for’ (it says that on their website) and ‘pay ten times as much for theÂ privilege’Â (that’s me ad-libbing) when we can now do this sort of thing ONLINE!!!
WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo yeah yipee! – someone’s really plugged a gap in the market here haven’t they ? Well, probably NOT.
Here’s what I can tell you about VIAGOGO. I used to think they were great because a few years ago when browsing through their website I managed to get three tickets for WEST HAM v STOKE for Â£45.00. Pretty fuckin’ decent eh? Especially when I could have gone to see LEYTON ORIENT the same afternoon for Â£23.00 quid a pop.
Three x tickets for Â£15.00 each and we got to see that bloke who can throw the ball towards the goal from the half way line and then see it again on Match of the Day that evening. This seemed a pretty good deal (and I mention this so LEYTON ORIENT fanzines can use this when the West Ham/Olympic stadium/cheap tickets argument raises it’s head again soon).
It all seems legit because there were loads of flashing adverts around the Boleyn ground advertising this company and on the back of the tickets was a stamp indicating that these tickets once belonged to another London Premiership club that obviously didn’t want them any more so threw them in the direction of VIAGOGO for what – a tenner (I’m guessing)? Who then sold them to me because I saw them 1st for Â£15.00.
And this, so far, is how I understand the company works.
And this ,so far, is how I understand how a similar company called SEATWAVE works.
And this ,so far, is how I understand is how a similar company called STUB HUB (who also have the “eBay” logo on their website) works.
And this, so far, is how I understand is how a similar company called GET ME IN (who also have the “TicketMaster” logo on their website ) works.
So, what a lot of indecisive XX fans there are out there (apparently) who join the mad rush to get tickets for these December gigs and then realise less than TWO HOURS LATER that they’ve got their cousins wedding / funeral / job / other gig the same day as the gig they’ve just shelled out Â£20+ for and realise they can’t go to anymore. And instead of calling their mates they hang out with down the pub to say “fuck me I’ve only gone and shelled out 20 quid for a gig I cant go to, do you want it?” they log onto these sites (maybe even register first) and get rid of their tickets this way.
Tickets that end up being on sale from between Â£60 and Â£177.34. AND THIS ALL HAPPENS WITHIN A COUPLE OF HOURS AFTER THE TICKETS HAVE ACTUALLY GONE ON SALE!!! BRILLIANT. This is certainly better that having to get someone to sell it to a tout outside eh……eh?
Question number one – how much are all you XX fans selling these tickets for then (if you indeed are)?
Question number two – have you tried opening a Twitter account and asking “who wants my XX tickets for face value” (this does work)?
Question number three – Â don’t you have any mates you could sell these unwanted purchases for?
Question number four – do you see yourselves as on line ticket touts wanting to make a fast buck (if indeed you are)?
Question number five – and do you actually give a fuck that there are people out there rather disappointed that they can’t go to the gig because it’s sold out and they can’t afford the Â£84 being asked to sit in the circle because since BESTIVAL their knees are fucked and they can’t stand up for more than half an hour at a time?
Feeling a bit Ester Rantzen (ask your mum) I then went back to the website that told me the XX were doing these gigs …a website ran by a publication that I am a customer of. They’re a music magazine. I often read their web page because I like what they write about and sometimes I read about things that inspire me to go out and have a look and listen.
I’ve been shelling out Â£2.40 (and less) for years now on a Wednesday morning for more years than the average age of the staff there. I’ve written them letters. Infiltrated their website every time they have something to say about a sold out gig.
And I’ve had no response.
Back in the ’90s I seem to remember they (or maybe Melody Maker) did a little (or big) item on ticket touts (BOOooooo!) . Not that I’m accusing anyone of being a ticket tout you understand. These are “Secondary ticket sellers”. A description I sort of understand as meaning something along the lines of ‘person A has something required by person B and because person A is stupid and untrustworthy there needs to be someone in the middle to take money from person B, give it to person A in return for a ticket and making a bit for themselves’.
‘A bit’ being double, treble, sometimes 10 times the amount person A has purchased the ticket for in the first place. Which is the bit I don’t understand and would like to concentrate on because I think that someone may be making a shit lot of money from someone else (BOOOOOooo!!!) who is willing to pay these extortionate prices, whilst at the same time preventing people like ME from getting a ticket for sensible money.Â Someone must be, mustn’t they (also BOOOOOooo!) ?
And no one seems to be able to explain to me how this is justified and how this isn’t an immoral practice.
So, question number six – is person A always an individual described above or are these ‘secondary ticketing companies’ allocated a certain amount of tickets for these events?
People with televisions may have seen a Channel 4 “Dispatches” show earlier this year suggesting that this may be the case, but I’m not here to challenge that accusation.
My question today (OK I admit, there’s a lot of questions and my counting is slightly out, and it’s going to get worse so hold on tight)…Please can you (NME, THE GUARDIAN and THE TELEGRAPH) acknowledge whether or not you feel that promoting these websites is morally worthwhile? Are you happy that your websites are in bed with companies offering tickets for gigs, sold out gigs (and unsold out gigs) at hugely inflated prices sometimes 30 minutes after they have gone on sale? Do you not read your own website where your readers usually swear a lot and call you names for not understanding that us – ‘the kids’ – Â who buy your magazine don’t think it’s fair that there are often tickets still available for “sold out” gigs for over a hundred quid?
There are dozens of tickets for the XX that are currently on sale above face value available at the moment – IS EVERYONE TURNING A BLIND EYE ON THIS AND DENYING THAT THEY UNDERSTAND ALL THIS?
As a punter, I think it sucks. When the XX were playing the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen to a half empty room a few years ago it was people like ME that were paying 7 quid to get in and NOW because they’ve made a couple of ace albums you can only go to see them if you’re RICH enough to thump up 60 or 70 quid to do so (or get up early when the tickets go on sale).
I’d like to think other people think this sucks also. If you don’t, then write me a nice letter (or leave a comment) explaining to me how we’ve now got this two-tiered system in place that sells concert tickets at face value (+ booking fees + postage) like we’ve always had, and another system where we’ve got companies selling tickets for the same gigs on the same bit of floor space to people who missed out the first way for over three times the face value?
A bit like the pint of milk scenario I mentioned at the top. Also, do the bands (hoorrayyyyyyy!) care that this is happening and is anyone actually doing anything about this – apart from actually buying these tickets for over a hundred quid (BOOOOoooo!) because they “just have too”?
And are these publications happy, or just naive in linking these alternative options on their websites? Can any of these publications let me know? I’m happy to listen. To maybe ask a few more questions and come back here with the answers. Especially if I’m wrong because there may be a couple of you out there who also do not understand any of this.
Please let me know someone, because I still don’t understand and you’re all clever people out there so I expect you may be able to make this a simple thing to explain to me.Â And stop giving me the hump.
I await your responses (in any order!) ………anyone?
About two hours after finishing this article I went to the home page of LOUDER THAN WAR and thought someone was having a very clever joke at my expense (which would have been odd because LTW were unaware at the time of what I was writing about).
Some of you may have seen that along the homepage recently were the now removed banner adverts for a “secondary ticketing company”. I’m not against adverts on websites at all but this got me angry. Then I laughed, then I cried. I got angry again and stamped my feet and suggested that we had a little chat about all of this.
It went on for about 7 days.
And it was decided eventually that this was not a good thing to have happened. So on behalf of LTW, I say sorry. To myself. Those in charge were unaware of my opinions regarding this and therefore I would like to sincerely say thanks to LTW (who I’m sure will pass on my own commendations back to me – I therefore indirectly pat my self on the back) for removing these adverts (horrayyyy!) (we were trying to change the ads from the start keith but I was out of manchester for a week so couldn’t get to a meeting to get it all sorted out with the people that run that side of things but thanks for your correspondence- the editor)
That was the easy bit.
Maybe this is all it takes
So that’s one down (unless I’m wrong about all this).
Also, Rolling Stones tickets – a day after these were announced, these websites were already advertising tickets. They varied in price between the cheapest ones at Â£305.68 + a booking fee of about Â£30.00 + VAT + postage to the more expensive ones at ELEVEN THOUSAND POUNDS !!!!
As someone just said on Twitter ‘how come these companies already have tickets to sell?’
Can I just say that last bit again please: someone on a the website of the “UK’s favorite music weekly” is selling Rolling stones tickets for ELEVEN THOUSAND POUNDS – and they’re not even on sale yet – Hello! Hello…. oi !
I think I need a lie down.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. You can read more from Keith on LTW here.