Consumer: Action at last on rip-off ticket re-sales?

Bruce Springsteen on stage at Leeds Arena in July 2013.
Bruce Springsteen on stage at Leeds Arena in July 2013.
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It’s an issue that Consumerwatch has reported on in the past, and now some of the biggest names in music, sport and theatre are demanding the Government cracks down on “unscrupulous practices” among websites reselling tickets - often at huge mark-ups.

The managers of One Direction, and rock stars Nick Mason of Pink Floyd and Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, are among those calling for a change in the law to stop secondary ticket sellers ripping off customers. The National Theatre, the Lawn Tennis Association which hosts Wimbledon, and the Rugby Football Union have also added their names to an open letter published in a national newspaper.

The problem was highlighted here in Leeds with the opening gig at Leeds First Direct Arena, where tickets with a face value of £65 were being touted for as much as £1,400 on the internet. At the time, the YEP reported that fans were furious over the sky-high prices of online tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s opener show at Leeds First Direct Arena. The tickets - which had a face value of £65 - sold out in minutes when released in February but began appearing on secondary ticket websites.

The open letter, published in the Independent on Sunday, came ahead of a key vote in the House of Commons yesterday at which ministers were reportedly trying to block a clause in the Consumer Rights Bill which would force sites reselling tickets to state its original face value.

The letter states: “As representative from the live-event industry, responsible for putting on shows ranging from international sporting fixtures and world-class theatre to intimate gigs, we are committed to ensuing that event-goers have the best experience possible at a fair price. The way the secondary-ticketing market is allowed to operate at present can seriously undermine that effort.”

They claim some promoters are funnelling sought-after tickets onto secondary ticket websites which sell them massively inflated prices.

They accused the Government of “sticking up for” these websites and urged it to “put fans first” instead.

A Government spokesperson said: “The Government takes consumer protection very seriously. We strongly support British sport and our creative industries; and fans are at the heart of that.

“We know that there is a small minority of people who set out to exploit the high demand for popular sporting and music events. However, the answer is not to overburden individual fans with red-tape. We want to strike the right balance between protecting consumers and allowing them to sell on tickets that they are no longer able to use.”