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25th February 2012

We all need to get behind Sharon Hodgson's bill right now - it's time for action

Following channel 4's Dispatches programme the issue of ticket touting re-emerges into the spotlight, we have a chance to change things

For those of you who didn't know Channel 4 Dispatches broadcast The Great Ticket Scandal on Thursday February 23rd highlighting the appalling practices that are going on within the ticket industry.

Channel 4's Dispatches programme effectively and succinctly brought into the open the issues that Safeconcerts have been campaigning about for a number of years.

Viagogo and Seatwave were shown to use some appalling and underhand methods within an industry that has expanded beyond belief in the last few years. The Dispatches programme also highlighted the fact that the big players within the industry, Live Nation, SJM, Metropolis Music and others have been providing these secondary sites with tickets to sell at inflated prices whilst pocketing the profits. This method has effectively prevented genuine music fans from being able to purchase genuine face value tickets for the most popular events. It has also allowed the proliferation of fraudulent sites to litter the Internet thus causing heartbreak to music fans and ultimately costing us all millions as banks and credit cards refund money lost.

There are some defenders of these practices but Dispatches reporter Paul Mills warns us

"Defendants of ticket reselling often resort back to the argument of the "free market". However, as is so often the case, this free market is illusionary. The "fan-to-fan" ticket market is in fact heavily rigged by Viagogo, who receive thousands of tickets (9,000 for the forthcoming Coldplay tour alone) straight from the promoter to sell at hiked-up prices, with Viagogo and the promoter splitting the proceeds. Furthermore, Viagogo uses employees to bulk buy tickets using company credit cards and list on the site and sell at the highest mark up possible."

Until now there has been very little will to take any action against these practices, in fact aided and abetted by certain promoters Viagogo and Seatwave have been gaining credibility rapidly. Both Viagogo and Seatwave sit as representatives on the Podium Forum both companies are advising the authorities on ticket selling practices. This cannot be right. Operation Podium was set up to combat fraud and organised crime around the Olympic games. Detective Chief Inspector Nick Downing said at the time that his top priority was to combat ticket fraud, especially bogus websites. There was no interest in ticket fraud prior to this being set up specifically for the Olympic games and Safeconcerts readers reported that it was impossible to get the police to take their complaints of ticket fraud at all. Safeconcerts are concerned as to what will happen once the games are over - will it revert to business as usual?

We have a lot of stories from our readers who have been defrauded by on-line ticket scams and have been warning our readers about ticket scams for years, sadly the lack of interest, action and the now highlighted collusion between various partners within the ticket industry has meant that the underhand and often downright criminal behaviours have been allowed to continue almost unhindered, some websites do get closed down only for the fraudsters to open them up again within hours.

In a more worrying move Seatwave have opened up an actual shop in the O2 complex in London which once again gives them the kind of credibility that as Dispatches shows they simply do not deserve.

Honesty, integrity, openness and transparency is something that cannot be said of the current ticketing market and never was the phrase 'buyer beware' more apt. The fact that the ticket buying public almost need a PHD in order to work out how to purchase a ticket from a legitimate ticket seller cannot be right.

Only this morning there was yet another scrum for tickets as One `direction tickets for 2013 went on sale - and you've guessed it, they sold out within minutes and appeared on the secondary sites including Viagogo and Seatwave just as quickly.

The exposure from the Dispatches programme has only highlighted one aspect of the insidious, sleazy and underhand practices that have been allowed to proliferate within the ticket industry and there has been no investigation of on-line ticket fraud that goes hand in hand alongside the secondary market.

Safeconcerts Ticket Safe have been campaigning to 'put fans first' for years but there has been little will shown by the authorities to enforce any real change which leads us to question just how far the corruption within the ticket industry goes.

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson has been at the forefront of a campaign to cap the resale of tickets at 10% of face value, a policy that the ticket buying public need to have in place if these practices are to be stopped. Despite campaigning tirelessly to get the government to take action to protect ticket buying fans, Sharon Hodgson has received little support and her bill has been thrown out three times.

The Dispatches programme is to be congratulated on showing so succinctly that the level of corruption, sleaze and underhand business practices within the ticket industry brings shame to all involved. If it achieves anything it must be that finally, we the public get fully behind Sharon Hodgson and show the government that we are no longer prepared to accept this level of collusion and corruption within the industry and the blatant profiteering must be curtailed.

We will be working further on this subject but for now we would urge everyone to support Sharon Hodgson and make sure that The Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill gets through. We need a fairer system and now we have an MP on board who supports this, why hasn't she been getting the support? We can no longer afford to be apathetic as this issue affects us all in one-way or another. Your support is desperately needed now more than ever - there is a window of opportunity to make some real changes - will you open it?

This is what you can do

1. Email your MP - MPs often don't know about issues that concern their constituents. Let your MP know that you support this Bill and any steps toward creating a fairer secondary market for ordinary fans. Find your MP here

2. Support Safeconcerts Ticket Safe - we are a not for profit site that has been campaigning against ticket touts and fraudsters for years. We have a section of our site that offers information, help and advice for purchasing tickets. Most importantly we have a ticket safe directory that lets you know just who you are buying from - secondary, primary, suspect or fraudulent site. Until the ticketing market place changes the ticket directory is the only place where you can find a wealth of information on ticket sellers.

Join the Safeconcerts Ticket Safe forum, Facebook and Twitter - the more people that speak out the more chance we have of being heard.

Visit Sharon Hodgson's website here and make your voice heard - we must all support this bill.

Don't let the Dispatches programme be a one week wonder - the time for action is NOW - Let's make some noise!

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We all need to get behind Sharon Hodgson's bill right now  - it's time for action

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