Watching The Great Ticket Scandal on Channel 4 last night made my blood brew. It wasn’t revelatory because I’ve always suspected such despicable practices went on inside the ‘online touting’ agencies of Seatwave, Viagogo and their dark brothers. However, seeing it played out in front me on TV; seeing staff openly acknowledge what they do as “fucking immoral” made me sick.
I always had an inkling promoters used touting websites (sorry, ticket re-selling agencies) to generate more money, however having my suspicions confirmed was truly horrible. If the practice was transparent, for example, if they sold the seats they give to Viagogo as ‘premium’ and through regular ticketing site then I’d have no problem with it – at least your being upfront about it.
The longer the programme went on the more it made the whole industry seem vile and it seriously tainted something I love doing (going to gigs not being a tout).
I love a bargain, however paying face-value for a ticket should not be seen as getting a bargain but that is what it is starting to feel like. Standing next to someone at a gig when you’ve paid face-value and know they’ve been cheated in to paying 4x that price by so called reputable companies is saddening. Something really needs to be done. It is probably a good thing the practice is seeping in to ‘The Arts’ such as classical concerts, ballet and art exhibitions because while the ruling powers may not care about a Madonna concert, start messing with their Proms or their Opera and you’ll see them get angry!
Not that we really can expect much, as Tory MP Sajid Javid believes touting is an “excellent example of the enterprise culture”. Which in my opinion is pretty rude to all the entrepreneurs with fantastic ideas, and who genuinely work hard to be compared to someone who just buys and ticket and sells it on! Wow, great enterprise!
What makes me laugh is how sports touting and other touting is treated so differently. The Metropolitan police has a task force, Operation Podium, to tackle the former (with specific regard to the Olympics). Are the really so naive to think that people who tout for sports do not tout for other things like music where there are no rules or regulations. Who knows what murky activity is being funded. Online or In-Street, for music, for sports or the Olympics; the money made from touting will fund the exact same things no matter where the transaction takes place or for what. And our lawmakers seem to be turning a blind-eye to that simple fact.
It is a real shame the woman working undercover at Seatwave got sprung because with their sheer size alone, who knows what deplorable activity may have been uncovered there! Would love to know how she got caught though.
That said, we shouldn’t sit back and let this happen. We can act. I wrote to my MP a few months ago about this very situation. Whilst I got a very generic response, “I care and I’ve passed it on”, I think the airing of Dispatches will make the issue more pertinent. I intend to write back with more thoughts and further highlight the situation (although I don’t expect those living in Bromsgrove to get very far, your MP is Sajid Javid and he seems to love ticket touting!).
While Sarah Hodgson MP’s motion to make touting illegal (or at least regulated) failed at the first attempt, that does not mean it is dead. Write to your MP and say you support her motion (her website even has example letters so she has done the hard work for you).
As I wrote this, I tickets for Jay-Z and Kanye West went on sale… standing seats sold out superfast yet Viagogo seemed to have loads… and the dark cycle continues