29 July 2012

Bring back the ticket touts

I've never entirely understood the anger felt towards ticket touts at major sporting events, particularly when it comes from people on the right. Touts are no worse than futures traders, buying something today, in the hope that it will be worth more tomorrow. If I see Cup Final tickets on sale for £100, say, and I reckon lots of people will pay twice that, why shouldn't I make that investment? Similarly, if I were a rich but lazy man, with no forward planning skills, why shouldn't I be able to pay over the odds?

But most people seem to disagree, and all sorts of mechanisms have been put in place to stop ticket touting at sports events. Which is a pity, because otherwise all those empty seats at the Olympics might now be occupied by people who've bought them off a dodgy looking geezer outside Stratford bus station.

I spent most of my working life in the cosseted public sector, and so I know nothing about the harsh realities of corporate hospitality days and freebies, but as I understand it, companies buy up loads of tickets so they can offer a nice day out to senior staff or possible customers. They can't always use the tickets, so they don't turn up, and just write off the cost of the tickets. Finding another way to use them would proably cost more than it's worth. If Britain still had a working infrastructure of ticket toutage, those tickets could be on sale, and we wouldn't be affronted by the sight of all those empty seats. Those dodgy looking geezers - valuable entrepreneurs - would make a little money, which would trickle down into the local economy of East London, creating a real legacy, and probably improving Britain's balance of payments

So, if anything can be learnt from the Olympics, let's make sure that we rebuild the threatened ecosystem of ticket touts. Abolish absurd over-regulation. Encourage the banks to lend more to dodgy geezers. There's no problem that the operation of free markets can't fix, apparently.


Marco. said...

Two quick points Brian.
My own experience of ticket touts has lead me to believe they add very little to the 'local' economy but plenty to the economy of Merseyside.
Why are they always Scousers?
No matter where the show has been, it's the extras from Brookside who I've encountered shouting
"I'll buy any spares, tickets on sale for tonight".
*Even when I caught up with The Velvet Underground doing a reunion tour, (in France), in 1992 it was the Terry McDermotts who were selling outside.

My second point is that the clamping down on touts was heralded as a way of stopping the public paying over the odds.
This has failed dramatically, as anybody who has strolled over to the O2 ticket office to buy something, only to be told the event is sold out will have noticed.
The reason events sell out so quickly is shysters like Viagogo buy up huge wads of tickets, then sell them online at massively inflated prices.
Nobody can explain to me how this is different to the toutsing.
I was at the Olympic Gymnastics last night.
There were many frustrated people holding up cards or just approaching groups, asking for spare tickets but nobody seemed to be in a position to help them.
I agree, why shouldn't they have been allowed to pay whatever they wanted to get in?

Dave said...

Brian - I am with you on this. The worst examples, of course, see the touts snapping up tickets for the F A Cup final and either denying the diehards supporters or ripping them off. Nonetheless, they are no worse than the FA who actually hang on to half of the available tickets for the knobs and hangers-on. Marco is right too. Seatwave have an office or at least a very large advert on one of the buldings adjacent to the O2 and they are simply licensed touts. I'd rather do business with a Scouse or Manc for cash than have my credit card jacked-up by on-sellers with their terms and conditions....

Charlton Mike said...

Those 'valuable entrepreneurs' as you label them put nothing into any economy. All the money they make is tax free because it's all cash in hand which isn't declared.

I don't see any difference between touts and Viagogo. They are all in the business to line their own pockets and ensure that proper fans have to pay well over the top for events.

Add these crooks to what goes on with tickets on ebay and it's no wonder that getting tickets for major events in this country has become such a nightmare. Not to mention that you have to have very deep pockets.

Anonymous said...

Oh Brian.... It wasn't because of the lack of ticket touts the seats were empty at the Olympics more for the reason that it was so aukward to buy them as well as the cost coupled with the time limit imposed on your visit at the event. I go to gigs and festivals. A band I like are putting on a gig. Needless to say tickets "sold out" very quickly but sure enough they were available on Getmein and Viagogo immediately at hughly inflated prices. Whilst I can easily pay £20 for the ticket I will not pay £60 plus (even though I am a big fan) on these so called resale sites. I have been to many gigs where touts are selling tickets outside I have not actually seen anyone buy from them I guess not many people will spend out to get to the venue on the off chance of buying a bumped up price ticket that may be fake. Also if a band has "sold out" but the touts are holding a number of tickets and don't sell them surely the events manager would see fan numbers are lower than ticket sales suggest therefore they are missing out on revenue. It is very unfair on the paying fans especially when they are your own kids who save up for these things only to be disapointed through other peoples greed rather than entrepreneurism.
Brian B Brian.