A UK-based, fan-to-fan ticket exchange Web site relaunched this month after security concerns forced it to shut down last September.
Scarletmist.com, which specializes in consumer-driven ticket exchanges, is back online after months of inactivity, during which the organizers worked on improvements.
The site, originally launched in 2003 by brothers Richard and Olly Marks, promotes itself as an “ethical ticket exchange.” Tickets are exchanged at face value or less with no service fees. As matches are made, the transaction is taken offline and made directly between buyer and seller.
In fact, unlike most other ticket resale sites, buyers and sellers on Scarlet Mist are actually encouraged to complete their transactions face-to-face. This measure aims to deter activity by “touts,” or fraudulent ticket resellers.
“The site works a little bit like a dating agency — it introduces buyer to seller, but does not own the tickets,” Richard Marks told TicketNews. “The financial transactions are handled by the users.”
The site previously worked to police itself, with tickets selling above face value quickly located and removed from the site. Unfortunately, these measures were not enough to prevent the site from being overtaken by unscrupulous resellers last year.
Using aliases to prevent detection of their identity, those posing as ticket sellers on the site posted non-existent tickets and then disappeared. They also bought tickets at face value and then sold them elsewhere at a premium, according to the site.
Since the shutdown, the company has been working with law enforcement to identify the individuals who previously abused the site. In preparation for the relaunch, it also altered the back-end process to make transactions more secure. And while contact info is not posted to the site, Scarlet Mist staffers maintain records of buyer-seller pairs.
Complaints regarding transactions are tracked, and any information regarding known fraudulent users is posted to the Web site.
Graham Burns, Chairman of the United Kingdom’s Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA), has doubts about the success of the site’s relaunch. In a conversation this week with TicketNews, Burns stated, “It failed the first time around for all of the obvious reasons. Why do they think it will work this time around?”
Marks said, “We cannot completely protect our users from crooks like this.” He added that anyone who buys or sells on such a site assumes this risk.
Despite past difficulties, Marks hopes to attract new users with the site’s Scarlet Mates feature, which matches buyers and sellers who want to meet at the event.
“We have always been aware that sellers and buyers often go with one another to the gig,” Marks explained. “We have tried to formalize this, so that both parties have an idea of the plans that each one has. We see this as an ‘icebreaker.’ We are not a full-featured dating site, but we do want to encourage sociability and new friendships.”