Ticket company warns on touting laws

Keith English described the suggested laws, as proposed as “laudable” but said it would only “push this underground”.

Ticket company warns on touting laws

By Joe Leogue

The head of Ticketmaster in Ireland has warned that proposed anti-touting legislation will remove safeguards from consumers buying secondhand tickets from approved resale sites.

Keith English, the company’s managing director here, described the suggested laws, as proposed by Noel Rock and Stephen Donnelly, as “laudable” but said it would only “push this underground”.

“That has been the experience if you look in places like Belgium, where legislation has taken place,” he said.

“The well-behaved or best in class resellers have simply stopped their activities and all sorts of sites have popped up in their place.”

Mr English said that if there is a consumer out there who wants to buy a ticket, be it at a higher price than face value, they’re going to do it.

Ticketmaster has an interest in the second-hand market by virtue of its ownership of Seatwave - a reselling website that allows sellers to offer their tickets at above face value.

Mr English told Newstalk Breakfast that Ticketmaster does not directly put tickets onto Seatwave itself.

“That’s not our job,” he said. “Somebody has already bought them and if it is an event that we are the primary ticket agent for, then the original ticket was bought from Ticketmaster.

“But that person has decided they are going to resell it.

“Everyone immediately jumps on what the listing price is. Tickets rarely ever sell for those prices.

“I’m sure there’s a speculative element of ‘throw it up and see if somebody will do it’, but my understanding is that this doesn’t happen in practice,” he said.

Seatwave, along with other resellers StubHub and Viagogo offers guarantees that the tickets for sale are legitimate.

Mr English suggested that this would be undermined if reselling at above face value was made illegal.

“If you try and restrict, they will simply stop using Seatwave, StubHub or Viagogo and they’ll take an ad on a DoneDeal or an Adverts.ie and then they will have a direct conversation with the buyer,” he said.

“And the buyer will no longer have any protection whatsoever. They will simply purchase the ticket.”

Mr English also told Newstalk that the prices Ticketmaster charge are set by the event organiser.

He said the number of sell-out events that result in touting is “very small”.

“It makes a lot of noise, it absolutely does because it’s usually about those high-profile events, so there’s a lot of fan interest when that goes on,” he said, adding Ticketmaster takes “a huge number of measures” to tackle touting.

“An event organiser might dictate to us a ticket limit per person. We will rigorously enforce that.

“We will go through the sales process as soon as it’s complete and we cancel anyone who has broken the ticket limit,” he said.

However, he added “consumers do not, these days, accept that something is sold out”.

“They will go and they will look for another way to buy a ticket.

“So if Ticketmaster puts up a sold out sign, there’s nothing left for this event, they will start going onto listing sites and then be prey to somebody who actually doesn’t care if they’re selling a genuine product or not,” he said.

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner

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