Ed Sheeran is on the defensive as fans have been vocal in their displeasure at the mistreatment they are suffering on the singer’s current tour due to his stringent policy against legally resold and valid tickets. An estimated 10,000 fans have been caught up in the mess, due to Sheeran’s requirements that all tickets be checked at entry against the identification and credit card of the person carrying them.
“I was fuming,” fan Samantha Dutton said after her tickets were arbitrarily cancelled for her having purchased them legally through a resale website. She, like many others, received a “void” stamp on her originally purchased tickets, then had to go wait in a line to purchase similar tickets from the promoter. “I paid £400 ($531) for two tickets, now I’ve got to pay £150 ($199) to go and see him, and then I’ll get my money back within five days, apparently.”
“If you haven’t got a spare £150 to pay for your tickets again, then you can’t get in – and it’s my girl’s 21st birthday.”
At least one of the thousands affected by the boondoggle was out majorly because a friend had purchased the tickets as a gift.
“Just travelled from Spain to Cork. Ticket in my friends name. Xmas present,” the man tweeted. “Told at the box office that I can’t get in. WTF ED. It’s after costing me 800 euro ($925) to travelling across for a concert I can’t get into. Screw you. #EDSheeranCork.”
The complaints published in the media were enough to illicit responses from both Sheeran and his management team, which predictably blamed their actions on the resale market. “It’s being done properly, I’m not stitching fans up,” Sheeran told reporters at BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend in Swansea. “People just need to take a stance. In two or three years companies like Viagogo are going to be kaput.”
Viagogo responded with its stance that the restrictions on the ticket market being put on by Sheeran’s team are “highly unfair and, in our view, unenforceable and illegal.
“The tickets sold on Viagogo’s platform are genuine tickets that have been sold on by the original ticket purchaser in good faith. Attempts by event organizers to cancel tickets on the basis that they have been resold are highly unfair, and in our view illegal, and only punish consumers.”
Sheeran’s team have long been allied with the anti-resale Fan Fair Alliance, which takes a public stance of wanting see fans protected from the legal and regulated resale market. In actuality, it functions more as a white label public relations front for industry-owned resale operation Twickets.
Twickets, which is the only “authorized” resale platform for Sheeran’s tour, counts Fan Fair Alliance founders Ian McAndrew and Harry Magree among its investors, as well as management from several artists including Noel Gallagher and One Direction. It effectively forces consumers to sell tickets to events they cannot attend at a loss, due to the charges it tacks on to both ends of the transaction while capping the price anyone can ask on its marketplace. For shows like Sheeran’s, that price cap is well below the price the market is willing to pay, which is beneficial to the person purchasing tickets on the secondary market, but much less so for the original ticket purchaser, while the promoter investors get to charge fees twice for the same pair of tickets.
In service of the Fan Fair Alliance and its push to make ticket resale illegal save for on the platform its senior leadership has a financial stake in, Ed Sheeran’s team have become a lightning rod among their own fandom.
Additionally, many outlets have reported that the enforcement of these policies has been wildly inconsistent.
“When I was going in I didn’t see them asking anyone for anything,” one attendee said, according to the Irish Times. “[They were] just quickly scanning tickets to move the crowd on!”
“Lots of people on Facebook saying they weren’t asked for ID going into #EdSheeran in Cork last night,” twitter user @aidan_walsh said of the same show where the fan who had travelled from Spain was locked out for not having the right ID. “[That] only makes making people give away scans of their credit cards to resell tickets worse somehow.”
Sheeran performs June dates in Glasgow, Newcastle, London, and Cardiff before moving his tour to the continent in late June. He heads across to the United States for dates beginning with an August 18 stop at AT&T Park in San Francisco.