Both Live Nation and Festival Republic, promoter of the popular Leeds and Reading festivals in August, have agreed to distribute tickets to fans as soon as possible after purchase in the UK, rather than waiting until close to the event to send them.
The two came to the agreement with the London Police, and the move will alter a pivotal ticket sales practice in the interest of reducing fraud.
The former practice was originally thought to discourage ticket fraud, leaving scammers the least amount of time to make copies of the originals and sell them to unwitting consumers, but what ended up happening was that some fans purchased tickets from fraudulent Web sites, or “touts” as they are known in the UK, and those fans were unaware of the problem until days before the event. By that point in the process, the defrauded fan is left empty handed with no chance to buy tickets elsewhere, and is sometimes no longer able to contact the fraudulent seller. This arrangement also made it difficult for police to follow up on claims of fraud, because with the delay in delivery they could not prove that an allegedly fraudulent seller did not possess the ticket at the time of purchase. The inability to prevent these types of fraudulent sales contributes to an annual total of £168 million lost to ticket scams, according to the UK’s National Fraud Authority.
The new plan promises to bring more clarity to the ticket sales environment, with fans who don’t receive their tickets right away now able to get help addressing the problem long before the event, and hopefully before the ticket scammer has time to disappear.
Graham Burns, chairman of the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) in the UK, welcomes the change.
“Finally, after years of pleading by the secondary brokers, the primary ticket distributors are taking positive, constructive steps to eliminate avenues used by the scammers to defraud the public,” Burns told TicketNews. “We have for many years asked that tickets be released immediately, and the call has always been rebuffed, citing the opportunity to forge the tickets. But we, the secondary market, have always maintained that the benefits of releasing the tickets early far outweighs the possible chance the tickets may be duplicated.
“We are heartened to see that this initiative will be monitored by the UK Anti-Fraud agency, so any issues raised by the early release policy may be quickly addressed. We know that this will be a milestone in the future of ticketing and we welcome this and indeed any other measures designed to protect the public.”
Festival Republic also has been active on the resale issue with the UK government, recently endorsing a bill in British Parliament meant to place a cap on ticket resale profits. The bill, sponsored by Labour Party member Sharon Hodgson and titled the “Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill,” seeks to prohibit ticket resellers from selling for more than 10 percent above face value, though certain sellers who have separate agreements with the event organizer or venue operator may be able to boost that percentage higher. The bill also would prevent ticket resale before the originals have been released for sale, and would allow resale only by those who purchased from the primary seller.
Those providing the electronic means for fraudulent sellers to do business on the internet would also be subject to charges after they are made aware of such crimes, and would be obligated to provide identifying information about the seller as well. A primary goal of the bill is to establish a nationwide fan-to-fan ticket exchange service.
The bill will be considered on or after May 13, when it has another chance to make it through to the committee stage.