Outing the ticket touting

Amy Rohu

Credit: Sarah O'Neill

We’ve all been there, you’re sitting at your laptop at 8:59 am, credit card in hand and you’re refreshing the page with baited breath as you wait for the hour to hit. Your favourite musician is playing their first gig in years and you’ve already got your outfit planned when all of a sudden as you finally get online, Ticketmaster informs you the tickets are all sold out. Sadly this has become a running theme over the last few years and in the last year in particular we have seen an influx in this occurring, so what exactly is happening here and how do we put a stop to it?

A decade ago, the term ‘ticket touting’ referred to someone buying tickets for a concert and then selling them outside the gig to desperate fans for a small profit, however in 2018, ticket touting has become an epidemic with actual fans missing out more and more and some fans claiming they wouldn’t even try and get tickets for concerts anymore because there just isn’t any point. Joanne who is a 23-year-old student in DCU is one of these fans, ‘I was going to try and get tickets to the Britney Spears concert and the night before I just decided it wasn’t worth the stress and I’m glad I didn’t, all my friends tried and none of them got their tickets and they were so disappointed. I was too but I felt better about making my own choice rather than some scammer making it for me’.

High profile concerts, in particular, attract the most touting with the recent Britney Spears concert announcement causing lots of controversy. Tickets for Spears’ gig were sold out in a matter of minutes and then were back up for sale on Ticketmaster’s resale site Seatwave for insane amounts of money. One of the most ludicrous offerings currently on the site is for six standing tickets priced at €325 each with a booking fee of €347.94 making the grand total for this sale €2,297.94. These tickets were originally priced at €78 so this seller is trying to make an unbelievable profit and this is just one example, there are over 150 tickets currently for sale and not one of them is selling at face value.

Another shocking example is eight front row tickets for Andrea Bocelli which were originally €155 each, are now selling for an unbelievable €499 each with another huge booking fee slapped on. It also makes you wonder how this seller managed to get their hands on eight front row seats for such an in demand event.

Seatwave is a great option for someone who has concert tickets and is unable to attend the event anymore due to unforeseen circumstances or a change of mind, however, the site is being abused by professional ticket scammers who are exploiting fans to make a huge profit and Ticketmaster don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

Last year there was a proposed legislation that would impose large fines on those who resold tickets for more than a 10% profit but this was met with disagreement from Ticketmaster and Seatwave with Seatwave claiming that it would be a ‘detrimental’ move for Irish fans. However, one of the most popular promoters in Ireland, Aiken promotions, responded to this proposal by saying ‘We would like to see the resale of tickets by third parties criminalised, this would give the public opportunity to purchase a ticket on a fair and equal footing for all’.

The situation on this matter now is the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission are currently investigating the ticketing industry and ticket touting claims in Ireland and have stated that they can’t give any further information at his time on their investigation, just that it is ongoing.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock and Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan have been two of the most vocal TDs on this issue and they are still advocating for anti-ticket touting legislation to come into effect here in Ireland, but for now, it doesn’t seem to be happening in the near future.

The only thing we can do as citizens is to put pressure on the government and show that this issue needs to be resolved sooner rather than later, if it’s something you feel passionate about then raise the issue with your local TD, all of their details are easily found online and as it is their job to represent us and fight for the issues that we feel matter.

Ticket touting is an epidemic where profit hungry vultures are depriving real fans of the opportunity of seeing their favourite musicians live and it needs to stop before any more people are left disappointed over someone else’s greed.