Although festival organisers regularly tell fans to be careful when buying tickets online, recent research into the UK secondary market suggests their warnings are falling on deaf ears.
At the end of last summer, figures produced by the Office of Fair Trading said one out of every 10 people who buy concert or sports tickets online have been ripped off by fake sites, although recent research by security firm G4S Events suggests that has had little effect on the touts’ business.
Despite some high-profile bankruptcies among the firms behind some of the rogue sites, well-known touts such as Michael Rangos regularly being exposed by BBC consumer advice programme “Watchdog” and the Just Tick It campaign, the touts and fraudsters don’t appear to be suffering from lack of demand. Just Tick It aims to increase awareness of fake ticket websites and provide buyers with helpful and practical advice on how to avoid being scammed.
The only indication of even a slight decline in the black market is that the average markup per ticket has fallen from the 71 percent it reached in 2008. The G4S Events’ 2010 Ticket Tout Index says the decrease is thanks to a better supply of genuine tickets on the Internet.
Even so, G4S reckons “a committed tout” need only sell about 10 tickets each week to earn more than £28,000 ($41,300) a year, which is more than the average UK salary.
Promoters including Live Nation UK chief ops officer John Probyn, Festival Republic head Melvin Benn, and Bob Angus – whose company produces the Chelmsford leg of the V Festivals – regularly repeat warnings about touts and fraudsters. They appear at a loss to explain why these warnings don’t appear to be sinking in.
“Fans continue to pour thousands of pounds into the wallets of the touts,” said G4S managing director Mark Hamilton. “But, fans should be aware that in buying tickets from unauthorised outlets, they could find themselves barred from entering events if their tickets are found to be fraudulent, or their identification does not match up with the ticket purchaser.”
His researchers found many examples of “phantom tickets” for sale, which are tickets advertised before they’ve actually been put on sale or released to the public.
Many losses have resulted when people try to get refunds for tickets that never arrived and unable to contact the seller, which has seemingly disappeared.
The security firm’s figures are close to the Office of Fair Trading’s regarding the number of people who fall victim to fraudsters. G4S says scam sites catch about one in 12 people who buy tickets online.
Cheated fans do have opportunities to claim money back from credit or debit card providers if a customer paid by card and the tickets failed to show.
Some of the steepest markups the G4S survey discovered included a pair of Paul McCartney tickets sold for £450 ($664), about 235 percent above face value. Two V Festival tickets valued at £162 ($239) went for £430 ($634), and £35 ($51.60) international rugby tickets cost £85 ($125.40).