Wedgewood Rooms’ stand against touts is admirable

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Aservice filling a need in the market or a parasite after a quick buck who deprives genuine fans of the chance to see their favourite artist or sporting team?

With the increase in internet ticket sales for gigs and sporting events, touting has been given a new lease of life. No longer the preserve of hard-faced men on street corners outside music venues, today’s touts get in there earlier to buy up as many tickets as they can online and then release them via auction websites and other sales outlets. And some of what would previously have been thought of as ‘touts’ are now companies which are operating in what is called the ‘secondary market’.

So are these touts or resellers acting legitimately? Under the current law they are, but the knock-on effect is that, by opening up ticket prices to the market, more and more tickets are going to those who can afford to pay more. It no longer matters to be first in the queue or quickest on the phone to buy tickets – those with plenty of money to spend don’t need to put themselves out to pay £20 for a hot ticket, as they can pick one up for £200 at their leisure.

Free market advocates won’t see any problem with this, but those who are more interested in fairness do. Obviously not all of the 100,000 who wanted to get a ticket to see Damon Albarn at the Wedgewood Rooms were going to be successful – after all, he’s one of the pre-eminent artists of his era – but the fact that within a couple of hours tickets for next month’s gig were being sold for more than seven times their face value is plain wrong. It’s profiteering at its most base.

And so we commend Geoff Priestley from the Wedgewood Rooms for his stand in trying to keep out flipped, or resold tickets.

His admirably principled stand won’t succeed on its own, of course – although we hope it does. While various political attempts have been made to clamp down on this practice, most often in connection with sporting events such as the upcoming 2015 Rugby World Cup, nothing solid is ever achieved. But an industry which piggy-backs on the value of others to make money by fleecing the public should not be tolerated.