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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 November 2005, 08:34 GMT
Booming grey market in gig tickets
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

Concert promoters are calling on the government to outlaw unofficial internet ticket sellers who charge high prices for major events and have been accused of ripping fans off.

Eric Clapton
Some sites promise front row tickets for Eric Clapton - for 1,000
Fancy seeing rock legend Bob Dylan at the intimate Brixton Academy but didn't buy tickets before they sold out? Want to be in the front row for Eric Clapton at the Royal Albert Hall?

Desperate to secure your place at Robbie Williams' stadium tour or gagging to get to Franz Ferdinand's sold-out shows?

Easy - if you are prepared to pay high prices and put your money and hopes in the hands of unauthorised and unregulated online ticket agents or auction site sellers.

Scores of such outlets have sprung up in recent years - and pose bigger problems than traditional touts, according to the music industry.

"It's very different from how it used to be - a guy outside the venue, on the street, selling tickets," says Paul Hutton, director of promoter Metropolis Music.

TICKETS ON OFFER
Eric Clapton - 977 (Getmetickets)
Robbie Williams - 495 (Theonlineticketshop)
Sir Cliff Richard - 429 (Splendidtickets)
Bob Dylan - 233 (Hertsboxoffice)
Coldplay - 180 (Soldouteventtickets)
"Our real concern is where you open up the papers and see people advertising for shows that haven't even gone on sale, or saying they can guarantee front row seats.

"You get onto these people's websites and they're selling 25 tickets for 78 or whatever with no guarantee that they're going to get them or get front row seats."

Hundreds of people have complained to trading standards authorities, the BBC's Watchdog programme and promoters because they paid over the odds - but did not receive their tickets until the last minute, if at all.

Promoters and venues try to beat touts by limiting the number of tickets one person, credit card or household can buy.

If I couldn't get a ticket I wouldn't be sitting here
Ben Lander
Hertsboxoffice.co.uk
Unauthorised agents do not receive official ticket allocations - so where do they get them from?

"We've been operating for three years now and if I couldn't get a ticket I wouldn't be sitting here," says Ben Lander, sales manager of Hertsboxoffice.co.uk.

"We do get the tickets. They're not fake tickets, they are genuine tickets." Hospitality companies who run coach trips are one source, he says.

"They buy from the official Robbie Williams promoters and then the coach gets cancelled because they couldn't fill it up," he says.

Getmetickets.net
Getmetickets.net say they are "the bad guys" in the media
"Then they have an allotment of tickets which they can't sell so they come to somebody like ourselves.

"We would pay over face value for them so that they make something out of it because we only work on a small profit margin."

Michael Rangos, managing director of Getmetickets.net, says he and his company have become "the bad guys" in the media - but he does not mind "because we make sales".

"The delicate web of relationships that we have built over a number of years provides us with more than a guarantee - utmost certainty - that we have access to thousands of tickets for the most popular concerts," he says.

Live 8 tickets
The resale of Live 8 tickets on eBay caused a furore
"It's common knowledge that the actual tickets are printed by the venues themselves, no matter who or where or how sells them. For example, Wembley will print every single ticket that comes out for that concert."

Peter Tudor, head of Wembley Arena and chairman of the National Arenas Association, says touts get their tickets the same way as everyone else - on phone lines, websites and in queues.

"I was at the Cliff Richard box office the morning they went on sale and a guy came and said he wanted to buy six for his girlfriend," he says. "And you wonder."

But there can be attempts to bribe or intimidate box office staff, he says.

There's certainly not any bulk tickets going out any side doors from any venue and promoter
Rob Ballantine
SJM Concerts
"Some of the touts certainly do try those activities, especially if they feel that we're resisting selling to them because we're trying to sell them to the genuine fans."

Rob Ballantine, director of promoters SJM Concerts, believes most unauthorised sellers simply block buy tickets with multiple credit cards as soon as they go on sale.

"When we get hold of tickets and trace them back, we know that they are bought over credit cards on the normal channels," he says.

"But there's certainly not any bulk tickets going out any side doors from any venue or promoter."


SEE ALSO
Call to outlaw net ticket touts
10 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Robbie fans' gig ticket warning
09 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Touting for trouble
15 Jun 05 |  Magazine
eBay prevents Live 8 ticket sales
15 Jun 05 |  Entertainment
Law change call over web touts
01 Mar 05 |  Scotland

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