End the ticket rip off! Campaigners demand ‘parasite touts’ are tackled

Campaigners are demanding action so fans desperate to see their favourite performers and sports teams on stage or on the pitch are no longer ripped off by “parasites”.

Outrage is building that tickets are routinely resold for many times the original price of the ticket.

Singer Ed Sheeran made headlines last week when his team said he was “vehemently opposed” to the resale of tickets at grossly inflated prices. Tickets for his Royal Albert Hall concert next month have been on sale for £5,899 – even though the these have a face value of £200.

Sharon Hodgson, one of Parliament’s most committed campaigners against ticket touts, wants a commitment in the upcoming King’s Speech to ban the sale of tickets for more than 10 percent of the original price.

She says this would ensure that fans who can no longer go to an event are not left out of pocket but would prevent “industrial scale” touting. “It’s a parasitical economy,” she said. “The touts are parasites, sucking out of the industry.”

The Labour MP is concerned that high ticket prices mean people who might go to multiple concerts a year can now only afford to go to one.

“I think it is really damaging for the industry,” she said. “Say if you’ve got to pay £500 for something you really want to go to, that means you are going to one event instead of possible five events.

“It’s damaging to social justice because if things are going to the highest bidder there is a whole strata of people who are then priced out.” Her worries are shared at the highest level of the music industry.

Tom Kiehl, the interim chief executive of the UK Music trade body, said: “We need urgent action to deal with touts who exploit music fans by charging rip-off prices for reselling tickets on the secondary market… Just a few hours after the tickets for

Eurovision 2023 sold out, the tickets appeared on resale sites for up to £9,000 – more than 20 times their original price.

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“Extortionate resale prices for concert and festival tickets – alongside practices like bulk-buying of hundreds of tickets – only enrich touts and those behind these sites and exploit the passion of music fans who are the losers.

“We will be continuing to press the Government to offer better protection for music lovers and consumers by introducing tough measures to end the great rip-off in secondary ticket pricing.”

Adam Webb of the FanFair Alliance, which campaigns against online ticket touting, is in no doubt about the required action. He said: “There is one easy way to tackle the harms of large-scale online ticket touting: outlaw it. We want the UK to follow the example of countries like Ireland and France by making it illegal to resell a ticket for profit, while ensuring fans can always resell for the price they paid or less.”

Labour’s Ms Hodgson wants the Prime Minister to include measures to stop the exploitation of fans in next month’s King’s Speech – but if he does not, she hopes Sir Keir Starmer will take her proposals forward.

She wants Labour to include a pledge in its own election, saying she “would love it our first King’s Speech if we’re lucky enough to be elected”.

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In the meantime, Lisa Webb, a legal expert with the consumer group Which? had words of caution for fans. “Missing out on tickets to see your favourite artist perform can be devastating, however it’s important to be cautious if you are looking at other avenues for getting tickets to a sold-out performance,” she said.

“Often a number of websites and secondary sellers pop up offering tickets for sale for hundreds or even thousands of pounds. But fans need to be aware there’s no guarantee they will get their tickets or entry to the event if they buy from an unofficial seller and they could be left seriously out of pocket.

“If you have bought from a secondary ticketing site and end up without a valid ticket, you should start by making a complaint to the seller. If they fail to provide an adequate response then raise the issue with your payment provider. “Depending on how you paid, you may be able to recover costs that way.”

The Government does not support a cap on resold ticket prices. However, it has taken measures to stop touts using computer “bots” to buy large numbers of tickets for sought-after events.

A spokeswoman said: “We’ve strengthened the law on information requirements for secondary ticketing websites and made it a criminal offence to use automated software to buy more tickets online than allowed.”

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