Omar Soliman 07/06/2005
You own every CD your favourite band has ever released. They have just announced a UK tour consisting of merely six dates. Despite seeing them live more times than you can recall you are overcome by giddiness. 10am on the morning of the ticket sales and you are an hour late. Despair, a 'SERVER TOO BUSY' message is on every online ticket outlet site you hurriedly visit and every phone line is jammed. On the brink of a nervous breakdown you finally get through only to discover that every date is now sold out.
Fans of such monumental bands as Oasis or U2 may have had to suffer this recently, it is a shame no syndrome has been named yet. The problem is not a paltry amount of live dates or even extortionate ticket prices, but ticket touts. You may have seen them; they are the snide looking characters pacing around the concert venue.
Instead of doing the honourable thing and buying their tickets in person the internet revolution has made touting even easier. In the comfort of their own abode they can order the tickets with minimal fuss. As we patiently await the tickets to drop onto our doormats the touts are already busy offloading theirs.
9am - Friday 28th January. Tickets for possibly the most eagerly anticipated tour of the year go on sale. Yes, U2's Vertigo UK Tour is launched. Within an hour 260'000 tickets are sold even at £55 each being the cheapest available. Type in' U2 Ticket' on EBay and you get 750 results with tickets selling for upwards of £200 each. In proportion 750 tickets is not a huge amount but undoubtedly there is a problem without even considering touts dealing at the concerts themselves.
You may have been in a similar position, suffering in debt and envisaging a quick buck from someone desperate to see a band. Indeed the ease at which the sale can be set up enhances EBay's success; anyone with internet access could do it. Coupled with live music's current popularity it should not be surprising - more gigs and festivals are selling out than ever before.
Changes in technology have adversely helped to cause the new internet touting problem. Holograms on tickets means increasingly difficult forgery and the desirable method of online ticket sales means they are easier to order.
Initiatives have been taken to eradicate online touting. Michael Eavis, despite having to organise Glastonbury Festival, has introduced measures of his own. A two ticket per person limit, whilst meaning more people ordering tickets, restricts those which could go to touts. Tickets could not be bought with a credit card, again to stamp out multiple ticket purchasing.
The most successful measure was brought in for last summers Glastonbury Festival. Personalised tickets simply meant that touts could not sell their tickets on, unless changing their name by deed poll. Eavis is even considering plans to issue ID cards for this summer's festival. Instead of tickets the cards would include a photo and a chip with the buyer's personal information.
For those honest souls willing to avoid EBay, tickets for sold-out events can be re-sold at face-value on scarletmist.com. There is also the inclination that tickets be exchanged in person. The site even reviews every transaction to eliminate any excessive profit.
More drastic measures could be introduced. EBay already has a rating system designed to identify the touts by allowing buyers to complain if they have been ripped off by a particular seller. Yet, if online touting has been recognised as a problem there should be a total ban on tickets for sold out events. If touts cannot get rid of their tickets maybe the ticket outlets could buy them back.
Considering that tickets for Oasis's summer tour were on sale eight months before the gigs themselves means ample time for ticket touting. Releasing tickets closer to the event, whilst still giving enough time for genuine ticket buyers to receive theirs, could help rectify this.
The popularity of live music and the simplicity of EBay has meant that online ticket touting has become a problem. Despite less than 5% of all tickets ending up on the auction site this is still creating huge profit at the expense of honest music lovers. Michael Eavis has introduced measures such as multiple ticket purchasing limits, a ban on credit cards and even ID cards. This has helped restrict touts regarding Glastonbury Festival but the problem is still rife for other high profile events. Do not help the problem so be aware of ticket sale times and if you need to offload a ticket use scarletmist.com. We can all still see our favourite band without lining the ticket touts pocket.