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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 07:39 GMT 08:39 UK
Q&A: Ticket touting
With the issue of ticket touting a hot topic, what issues do genuine music fans face while buying a concert ticket?

IS IT AGAINST THE LAW TO RE-SELL CONCERT TICKETS ON THE SECONDARY MARKET?

Under current UK law it is not illegal to re-sell tickets for concerts.

However, it is an offence to sell items on the street corner without a street trading licence.

Under the terms and conditions printed on the back of a ticket, concert promoters could choose to bring a civil prosecution against anyone reselling a ticket, but that is unlikely to happen.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OFFICIAL AND UNOFFICIAL TICKET AGENCIES?

Official ticket agencies, such as Ticketmaster, Seetickets.com, and Ticketline.co.uk, are outlets authorised by acts to sell concert tickets on their behalf.

They will post details of the official agencies when their tickets go on sale. Some official agencies are also members of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers, and their names are listed on its website.

Tickets are sold by official agencies at face value, with booking fees and postage costs on top. These additional costs vary between agencies.

Unofficial agencies sell tickets for inflated prices. They buy from the secondary market, and resell them on again to concert-goers.

In some well-documented cases, some unofficial agencies have advertised tickets that they do not even have in their possession, and, in some cases, before concerts have even been confirmed.

One such agency, tickettout.com, recently folded, leaving thousands of customers out of pocket.

WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY BOOKING FEES ON TOP OF THE PRICE OF MY TICKET?

Official ticket agencies charge additional fees in the shape of booking fees and postage costs on top of the face value of the ticket.

While the agency does not set the price of the ticket, it does decide the additional costs.

One official agency, Ticketmaster, says its booking fee pays for, among other things, its distribution network, the installation and maintenance of computer hardware and software, telephone lines, labour and other all costs associated with the ticket transaction, including implementing anti-fraud procedures.

The additional handling fee pays for costs associated with the staffing, installation and maintenance of printing equipment, stationery and the cost of postage or, where necessary, delivery to the venue for collection.

But charges can vary widely between concerts and agents.

HOW DO I KNOW IF THE TICKET I'M BUYING IS GENUINE?

If you buy from an official agent, you can be safe in the knowledge your ticket is genuine.

When buying from the secondary market, however, there is no way of knowing whether a ticket is genuine, or even exists, unless the seller includes the serial number.

Sellers on eBay are now required to include the face value of the ticket they are selling. But in the majority of cases users do not print the serial numbers of tickets because they know it can lead to that ticket being cancelled by promoters.

One internet auction site, Viagogo, claims to offer users more protection than other sites by guaranteeing to refund the buyer if the tickets do not arrive or are forged.

In June last year, Robbie Williams fans in Ireland were put on alert after 2,000 "sophisticated" fake tickets were circulated.

I BOUGHT A CONCERT TICKET RECENTLY BUT I CAN NO LONGER GO. ARE THERE ANY ALTERNATIVES TO SELLING IT ON AN ONLINE AUCTION SITE?

Various websites offer face value ticket exchanges. One of them is Scarlet Mist - the "ethical ticket exchange" - which offers fans a way to resell a ticket for the face value if they can no longer go to a concert. It was set up by Richard Marks in 2003 when a friend missed out on a ticket for Glastonbury.

It works by introducing buyers and sellers to one another.

However, there is no way of knowing whether you are passing on your ticket to someone who plans to sell it on again at an inflated price.

Meanwhile, consumers who purchase tickets through Ticketmaster can now resell tickets for sold-out Wembley Arena events for face value.

IT'S ILLEGAL TO SELL ON FOOTBALL TICKETS, AND IT WILL BE THE SAME FOR THE OLYMPICS, SO WHY NOT CONCERTS?

Under anti-hooligan measures, it is illegal to sell tickets outside a football ground and a tout can be fined up to 5,000 if caught outside one.

Viagogo has struck a deal with some Premiership clubs to allow season ticket holders to legally sell unwanted tickets to members and other season ticket holders for league games.

However, supporters say the initiative is simply legitimising touting.

Creative Industries Minister Shaun Woodward says the government legislated to make it an offence to resell tickets for the London games in 2012 because of the International Olympic Committee's stipulations for host cities.

The government does not think it is necessary to legislate against reselling concert tickets, although it recently announced that "events of national importance", such as July's Concert for Diana at Wembley Stadium, may need more regulation.


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