Ticket touting: will it ever stop?

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Ticket touting always appears in the news at this time of year. People become victims of scam sites, fake eBay sellers and inflated ticket prices to various festivals, concerts and other major events. This trade has been going on for years, and yet the general public seem none the wiser, and measures to stop it happening seem none existent.

Last year, as many as 2,000 people turned up at Bramham Park - the site for Leeds Festival - to collect their tickets, only to be told that they'd be subject to scammers, the BBC has reported. These people, plus another 28,000, fall victim to ticket con artists every year. Telling people to buy from legitimate and established websites doesn't help if you're new to purchasing online, or if you don't know what to look for in a fake website.

STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers) is the 'leading self-regulatory body for the entertainment ticketing industry across the UK', and websites with the STAR logo are trusted sellers. But although many sites are a part of STAR, not all the big name sites are. Out of four well known ticket selling sites in the UK, only half were a part of STAR. This is not only confusing for the customer, but makes it even harder to spot the fakes.

It's not just fake sites that can scam people, it's fake people on legitimate sites. Untrustworthy eBay sellers have become harder to spot recently. You could check their feedback, see it's 100% and be satisfied that you're getting a good deal, even if at an inflated price. You could be wrong. Many of eBays sellers now pay people to give them good feedback, even if their experience was less than joyful. Without eBay and ticket companies communicating with each other to blacklist people like this, or to stop tickets being sold for more than face value, this trade could continue for years to come.

Sites such as Seatwave, where people can sell tickets for events such as sports matches and concerts, seems to have elevated the problem of second hand selling. Ticket prices aren't capped, meaning they can go for whatever people are willing to pay for them. It seems the social norm that if an event is sold out, you can go on a site such as this, and with a some extra money, get a ticket. It may be accepted, but it doesn't mean it's right.

Other measures such as ticket holders names being printed on the ticket and needing photo ID to be granted entry to the venue, limiting customers to two tickets per person (both which were used at Tom Waits concerts last year) and only having tickets collected at the venue with ID and the card used to make payment all seem a good idea in theory, but there are flaws.

The first major problem is that of original ticket holder not being able to attend, and giving or selling their ticket to someone else. It happens all the time, and short of tickets being reprinted, there's nothing which could be done if names were printed on the tickets. Producing the card used to make the payment has been a problem for many years, with young people who used their parents' cards to buy their tickets risk not being let into the venue.

Combating touts was never going to be easy, whether it's online or on the streets, and although the Police Central e-crime Unit vow to “provide a law enforcement solution and work towards limiting the impact of this crime on society,” they won't be able to do this without the upstanding ticket companies working with each other to find a practical solution that cuts out the touts, but also doesn't disadvantage the honourable customer.


If you'd like to know more about STAR, the Police Central e-crime Unit or how to be safe online, follow these useful links:
http://www.star.org.uk
http://www.met.police.uk/pceu/prevention_team.html
http://www.getsafeonline.org
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