Last week, the Foo Fighters made headlines when their sold-out show in London became a take-no-prisoners stand against “ticket touts” – the UK term for ticket resellers, scalpers and the lot – more commonly known as StubHub, Viagogo, and other legal, widely used ticket resale websites.
At the request of the band, O2 Arena and its staff enforced a strict ID-check wherein any fans whose tickets did not match the name on their ID were turned away at the doors.
“Unfortunately, this meant a small number of fans purchasing bogus tickets from these unscrupulous outlets did not get into the sold out show… Foo Fighters, The O2 and SJM strongly advise and sincerely hope that in the future ALL fans buy tickets only from legitimate sites to ensure they are not defrauded out of their hard earned money.”
Legitimate, in this instance, is certainly up for debate. StubHub is the official partner of the O2 Arena, connected by links to the reselling website from O2’s homepage as well as branded ticket machines stationed throughout the arena. The tickets, by all accounts, were valid tickets purchased legally by UK law. The band simply decided to void them in keeping with its attempts at interfering with the legality of ticket resale at the expense of its own fans (not to mention StubHub, which refunded all those who were stranded at the gate).
Obviously, this left hundreds of fans feeling anywhere from disappointed to devastated. One such fan- University of East London psychology student Jinky Espanol- told Rolling Stone that she paid over $300 for a front-row ticket from Viagogo and traveled three hours to see the band. She was denied entry because her name did not match that on the ticket, but her dedication did not waver. After a last-minute call-out to fellow fans on social media, she purchased an entirely new ticket at the top level of the stadium for $90. “It wasn’t fair,” she says. “I was there early and they turned me away—and later in the evening, they let me in, even though the name on the ticket was not the same. Which is ridiculous.”
Another would-be concert-goer, Kate Coulson, who is a risk manager for a bank near the O2 Arena, bought two tickets on StubHub for $965 a week prior to the show as a birthday present for her husband. After successfully entering the venue and getting past security, the couple were asked to present their IDs and when their names did not match, were directed to the box office where they were told they would not be getting in to see the band. “It was just awful,” Coulson told RS. “And there were hundreds of people in the same boat, and people were genuinely really upset. I really love them. It was horrible.”
When asked by paparazzi how he felt about the fans who were turned away, Foo frontman Dave Grohl told TMZ that “it’s kind of a tricky situation”. He downplayed the fan frustration, saying that “apparently, there was some sort of mix-up…it was a 20,000 capacity show, and a couple hundred of the people didn’t get let in because of some miscommunication”. He places blame on “StubHub or the O2” for the incident.
Aimee Campbell, a spokesperson for StubHub, stated: “We don’t think this is fair at all. Lots of innocent people, if you will, were denied entry,” She went on to point out what many fans on Twitter already had, that “it was happening not just from people who purchased on resale sites, but also people whose brother bought tickets, and somebody went at the last minute.”
This incident and many others like it strike at the core of the battle between content-holders or venues believing they have the right of final say regarding all things related to the tickets sold to their fans. Acts which seek to restrict the legal right of resale by the consumer (or, the ability to purchase tickets for someone else that wants to see the show even if you’re not attending) have the right to do as they see fit, ranging from cancelling all tickets found on the secondary market or making fans jump through hoops to buy tickets with Ticketmaster Verified Fan, or in this case, denying them entry at the entrance to the arena.
The question is, will fans continue to buy in when they become the collateral damage in their heroes’ attempts at throttling the consumer rights to a legal, regulated secondary marketplace in the name of battling “scalping”?
The following statement was published by the O2 Arena. It has been added to this piece at the request of Foo Fighters’ public relations:
The Foo Fighters show that took place at The O2 last night had a strict ‘names on ticket’ policy. The stipulation that ID would be required for admittance to the show was clearly stated at the time of announcement and was explicitly noticed at the point of purchase.
Other measures in place to combat the risk of ticket reselling included a strict limit of 2 tickets per person as well as a range of anti-fraud measures regularly deployed. These added measures were put in place at the direction of the Foo Fighters to protect their fans.
Despite these requirements being in place, some purchasers listed their tickets for resale on secondary sites, including StubHub, in clear contravention to the ID requirement and the direction received from The O2, the Foo Fighters and the promoter of the show. As a result, approximately 200 people who held tickets that were not in the name of the original purchaser were denied entry to the show.
We are extremely disappointed if you didn’t get to see the show and urge anyone who encountered issues to contact their point of purchase for a full refund.