The British Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR) has introduced a new tool to fight ticket fraud throughout the UK.
The self-regulatory group — consisting of British ticketers, venues and box offices — released a new “kitemark” to be displayed by all authorized ticket sellers who comply with the STAR code of conduct.
A familiar concept in Great Britain, the kitemark is similar to a seal of approval in the U.S. and gets its name from a century-old symbol, resembling a kite. Traditionally, a British standards agency bestows such symbols, which are meant to indicate a high level of quality in a company’s goods or services.
STAR represents U.K. ticket agencies that sell over 90 percent of the tickets in the country, including such companies as the UK divisions of Ticketmaster and CTS Eventim, and The Ticket Factory. Expectations are that this new symbol will help further distinguish STAR members from those British ticket sellers who engage in fraudulent practices.
According to a statement released on the trade association’s Web site, online ticket fraud costs an estimated £168 million per year, and a recent survey by STAR revealed that ticket fraud has impacted one in 10 British fans.
Quoted recently in Event Industry News, STAR secretary Jonathan Brown stated, “Ticket fraud is an industry-wide problem and we needed an industry-wide solution to tackle it head on. By giving the ticket-buying public these assurances, we can all work together to help to reduce incidences of ticket fraud and the opportunities for those who unscrupulously prey on such an alarmingly high number of innocent people.”
While hopeful that this new feature will assist in stopping unscrupulous ticketers, Graham Burns, chairman of the U.K-based Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA), has reservations regarding the potential for any real impact on the ticketing business.
“Whilst we welcome any initiative that aims to protect the consumer, we would ask the value of the new ‘kitemark’ launched by STAR,” Burns told TicketNews. “What is behind it? What does it represent?”
Burns continued, “Yes, we are all aware that they are making the kitemark ‘instantly recognizable’, but what value is it really to the consumer? What guarantees come with it? One of the points that accompany its launch is that it represents ‘reputable outlets’ — but that is the STAR logo itself, surely?”
Also according to Burns, the new feature fails to support the reputable ticket sellers working in the country’s secondary market. “This relaunch is good news generally, but as it somehow fails to acknowledge the existence of the £500 million secondary industry, it misses its mark by a margin,” Burns said.
The new kitemark is supported by a number of organizations active in the British entertainment industry, including the Concert Promoters Association, the National Arenas Association and The Society of London Theatre. It has also been endorsed by Britain’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Office of Fair Trading, and law enforcement agencies.