100daysofgrievances #5 TICKET TOUTS

Ticket touts are the bane of my life. I’m not sure if the situation is worse in the South, or if things are exactly the same in Scotland now too, but I know for a fact that it is becoming increasingly more difficult for me to get tickets for the gigs that I am desperate to attend. The thing that annoys me the most is the fact that the sort of behaviour demonstrated by these people would simply not be tolerated in any other situation.

Let me set a little scene for you… It’s the run up to Christmas and all the big supermarkets have just commenced with their irritating advertising campaigns. Their warehouses are filling up, the weather’s getting colder, and the children are getting even more high-pitched. You with me so far? Right, now let’s imagine that a group of people, intent on spoiling the big day for everyone else, decides to go onto the websites of all the big supermarkets – the big national ones that share the majority of the market – and buy up every single turkey that they possibly can. For the sake of argument, I’m also going to state that the vast majority of these Scrooges don’t even like turkey. A group of vegetarian people buying up all the turkeys that they aren’t even going to appreciate. Totally ridiculous, am I right? So, all the turkeys are bought up by all the vegetarians, and all the meat-eaters are left wondering what on earth they are going to do. They’ve been looking forward to this day for ages. The main event gets closer and all the meat-eaters panic and start hunting everywhere for a turkey. Some are lucky; they have small local, loyal stockists that look after them. Unfortunately, the big supermarkets who offer an online service are slowly pushing them out of business; next year they might not be so lucky.

But wait! What is that? All the vegetarians are now selling the turkeys they’ve bought, using Ebay and special turkey resale websites! If you’re really desperate for a turkey, you can pay ten times the price that the supermarkets were selling them for in an attempt to secure one. It’s a wee bit dodgy – you never quite know if your meat’s going to turn up after you’ve paid for it, but hey-ho, needs must. Some of the meat-eaters may decide to wait until closer to Xmas day; you never know, you might just bag a bargain when the vegetarians sell off whatever they’ve got left outside the supermarkets. Again, a bit risky as you could pay good money for a turkey that looks good but actually turns out to be a dud, but fingers crossed! In the end, all the vegetarians go home rich and buy lots of nut roast or whatever it is that they choose to spend their ill-gotten gains on, and the majority of the meat-eaters stay at home and cry into their sherry. The end.

This is basically what ticket touts are doing every day of the week: depriving actual music lovers of tickets to gigs they really want to go to, just so that they can line their own pockets, and it disgusts me! When I am Queen, all the touts will be rounded up and shipped off to a secluded island where there is no internet and no phone signal, and all the music lovers can live happily ever after. Until then, surely there is another solution? It is possible (to a certain extent) to regulate who goes through the doors of a venue/gates of a field, Glastonbury being the near-perfect example of a ticketing system that actually works. Obviously I am only speaking in terms of measures that deter touts; I have no intention of entering into a debate concerning the unfairness of their ticketing lottery! By making potential ticket customers register online, with a photograph, it renders it far more difficult for the bottom-feeding touts to bulk-buy and sell on the excess tickets. It also removes much of the demand for touted tickets – few people would be willing to spend hundreds of pounds on a ticket photo-registered to somebody else.

Perhaps other venues should take this approach? I, for one, would be more than willing to pay a couple of quid extra to increase my likelihood of actually obtaining tickets for the bands I want to see. It’s not like we don’t pay enough in booking fees as things currently stand. Obviously it would not be cost-free to implement this but I do not think it is beyond the realms of possibility. The name of the card holder is often already on the tickets when they’re printed out from an email; surely it is possible to print a passport sized photo too? I’m no technical genius, maybe this would cost a small fortune, but the names can definitely be printed and could still be checked against the ticket holder’s I.D. Promoters would argue that checking every ticket would take time and manpower (and therefore, money), but in my opinion, it is still feasible. 

Take a venue that has a capacity of 3000, and say 10% of tickets are reserved for hospitality, that still leaves 2700 tickets that need to be checked. Surely they wouldn’t need too many staff to do this (think how many staff they have checking bags in order to confiscate bottles of water and the like), and checking tickets against I.D. would be a far less time-consuming practice. For sake of argument, perhaps 20 extra staff would be needed for a venue this size and would need to work for around 2 hours. That’s 40 hours at what I am assuming is close to minimum wage (well it was when I was employed tearing tickets). So, 40x£6.31=£252.40 in extra wages. If you divide that by the 2700 tickets, that is less that 10p per ticket. TEN PENCE! Who would seriously begrudge that?

I’m perhaps being naïve, and maybe I’m oversimplifying things (it has been known)… Having said that, surely clamping down on touts can do no harm. Take the example of Kate Bush, playing this week (no, I didn’t manage to get tickets – wretched touts!) Of course she would have sold out her gigs in record time, and many fans would have been left disappointed even if no touts had snapped up the tickets, that is not up for debate. However, where is the justice in the fact that tickets that cost from £49 are now being advertised by touts on resale sites for up to £1000? One only slightly-sparkling silver lining is the fact that photo I.D. is apparently required at the door of these particular gigs (I just looked it up!) and hopefully thousands of touts have been left out of pocket as nobody has been willing to take the tickets off their hands. That would please me a lot, and we can only but hope.  Alas, I think this is unlikely, and yet again, it is probably the touts who are laughing all the way to the bank and the genuine music fans who are left disappointed at the doors.

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