CRIMINAL / CONTRACT
Live events sector

 

A new All Party Parliamentary Group has been sent up by MPs Mike Weatherley (Conservative) and Sharon Hodgson (Labour) to investigate the secondary market for event tickets and ‘industrial scale’ touting that involves promoters and artistes. The Group also includes Andrew Bingham MP (Con), Kerry McCarthy MP (Lab), Steve Rotheram MP (Lab) and Nigel Adams MP (Con). According t Hodgson the APPG will “build cross party consensus on the need to enable event organisers to protect their tickets and customers from being exploited by touts” and it is hoped that a new survey in 2014 will underpin new legislation to support the live sector and inquiry sessions have been set for January, February and March 2014 to hear from the re-sale sector, the live events industry and consumers as well as one meeting set aside for technology solutions.

A study from UK consumer group Which? In December said that theatre-goers and music fans face massive mark-ups on the value of some online tickets. The study shows that compulsory charges are added to 72% of tickets sold online, and nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said the charges had put them off buying tickets for an event altogether. In one study, only 3% of tickets were being sold at face value without any additional compulsory fees like booking or delivery charges. The survey of 2,000 customers looked at 15 events with tickets sold through 20 different outlets in all. One example given was tickets to comedian Jimmy Carr’s show at Wolverhampton Civic Centre which have a face value of £25. To this a 38% surcharge is added by means of a £3 booking fee and a compulsory delivery fee if £6.50. Tickets to War Horse at the new London Theatre had £18.75 in fees added to by StarGreen to a face value of £62.50 and tickets to Strangers On A Train at the Gielgud Theatre had fees of 35% added. Shows by Miranda Hart, Rizzle Kicks, Ellie Goulding, Russell Brand and Joan Rivers all had 20% (and more) added in charges. Some agencies even charge people to collect in person at the box office,  with Ticketmaster adding £3, and some agencies charged to ‘print at home’ – The Times reported that TicketWeb and Eventim both charged £2.50.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: “Consumers tell us they are feeling ripped off by the level of ticketing charges and the lack of transparency means it is almost impossible for people to compare prices when booking online” adding “We want to see the ticketing industry play fair on ticket fees, so that all charges are displayed up-front and with a clear explanation of what they’re for.”

A Ticketmaster spokesperson told Sky News: “To suggest that ticket fees are hidden is utterly misleading and factually incorrect. Before a customer purchases a ticket, any additional fee is always displayed clearly. The fees cover a wide range of costs to provide the services which ensure the best and easiest possible experience for our customers from purchasing a ticket to accessing the event” and the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) pointed out the sales through multiple outlets promoted healthy competition and ensures prices are ‘kept as low as possible’.  See Tickets, owned by France’s Vivendi, refused to comment to Which?

Which? is launching a campaign to bring down the cost. The move by Which? follows the successful lobbying of regulators to force airlines to scrap debit card surcharges. A dozen airlines including EasyJet and Ryanair last summer pledged to include the charge in the headline ticket price.

In separate news, The National Theatre has called for legislation to ban ticket touts and warned its customers that tickets brought from resale sites could be invalid.  The Royal Opera House has also warned its customers that they could be turned away.

Hove MP Weatherley has been announced as a speaker at the 2014 Great Escape showcase and conference in Brighton in May. With a background in film and music, he also acts as IP advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/theatreblog/2009/oct/28/booking-fees-theatre and Live UK January 2014 Issue 168 and http://www.musicweek.com/news/read/all-party-parliamentary-group-calls-for-secondary-ticketing-legislation/055191 and The Times (Theatres threaten to ban holders of tout tickets) 25th January 2013.