back to article eBay slams touting ban

The Government will create a list of "crown jewel" events whose tickets cannot be sold on once bought. If the ticketing industry will not sign up to the voluntary scheme the Government has threatened to legislate. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will ask event organisers, promoters, and ticket sales agencies …


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  1. Ian


    Surely event tickets are a scarce commodity, and so will be priced according to demand on an open market? If people are willing and able to pay hundreds of pounds for rare tickets, then why not?

    It doesn't make sense to say "fans feel they are being priced out of the market for seats at events" -- I feel priced out of the market for owning a Learjet, but I don't expect the government to do anything about it.

    Ultimately, we have a more-or-less free market on most goods and if things like company shares and houses can be bought and sold at prices vastly over their real worth, why not concert tickets?

  2. Steve

    Not for consumer protection.

    Thre events industry couldn't give a stuff that punters are being massively overcharged to get tickets - they only care that they aren't the people doing the overcharging.

    You can see this because originally they wanted to be given a cut of any resale of tickets, not to ban the sale completely. They don't want to reduce ticket prices if events are still selling out, they just want to redirect some or all of the income from resales into their bank account.

  3. Mike Crawshaw

    Holy Guacamole!

    E-Bay have talked some sense!

    I need a lie down.

  4. FlatSpot

    Anybody fed up with Red tape labour??

    "We have also seen a growth in the secondary market with tickets block-booked by people whose sole aim is to sell on at a profit," said Burnham."

    So the organiser has made their cut.. so the only looser is the idiot that spunks up 4x the face value to buy a ticket... Fool and his money.... etc..

    If nobody paid the tout the tout would go bankrupt.. I love those stories on Watchdog where some idiot has paid up front and arranged to meet a stranger in a carpark.. who then doesnt show up... like what do you expect???

    Anybody fed up with Red tape labour?? Isnt it time they tried cutting some bureaucracy instead of continuously adding to it?? How about a final year of legislation culling?? :)

    No wonder the country costs so much to run and live in these days....

    How hard is it to setup a website that limits ticket transactions? Such as registering first to a valid email address, limit to 4 tickets, credit card only to the address of the holder etc. etc..

  5. Ian Moffatt

    They would say that wouldn't they?

    eBay stand to lose money if not allowed to flog on tickets. Yes there are the odd legitimate cases where someone can't attend an event. eBay are just taking the p1ss.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    eBay and consumer protection

    "They end up either driving the trade on to other parts of the internet - or even worse, on to street corners where there is no consumer protection if things go wrong."

    And eBay said this? I don't think I need to comment further.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    IMO it is none of the government's business if folk want to sell the tickets they've bought. If they are unhappy with folk buying large quantities to sell on at a profit, then they should learn to live with it. No one has to buy from a reseller of genuine tickets. If their asking price is too high they can easily be told where they can stuff their stock of tickets. The local pub doesn't usually have an entry fee, and may well have a large TV showing the event in question anyway.

  8. Ian Dennison

    Lets make it official

    Ever seen "Price bid tv"? Where you put your bid in for one of [x] many items, and the minimum bid to obtain an item creeps up accordingly? Why not just make it official and sell tickets directly this way? Have a cutoff of 4 weeks beforehand to allow for organising accomodation / travel, and have a waitlist of people who can pick up other tickets?

    Am I the only one thinking here?

  9. Stephane Mabille

    Easy solution?


    I might have missed something, but an easy solution might be to ban any resell of ticket above face value.

    Legitimate people unable to attend an event for whatever reason would still be able to sell their tickets and recover their cost and touts should be prosecuted.

    What about ebay voluntary impose a rule capping price on face value? Of course that would requires a minimum of ethics, a quality hard to find in a company always hiding behind the "sorry, I didn't know, I can't control everything, oops anything" when allowing overpriced tickets, counterfeit items, and plenty of other scams.

  10. Ferry Boat

    Free market and all that

    Hummm..... another stab in the face for the free market by Labour. Either they are for it or against it. They should have let the market deal with that there Northern Crock thing too. Anyway, often you have to buy tickets for sports events and concerts months in advance. Who knows what they'll be doing in six months time? I don't even know which pub I'll go to at lunch.

  11. Spleen


    Possibly the most bizarre way of doing business in the Western world. Sell tickets massively below market price, then bitch and whine when someone tries to take advantage of your incompetence and spend millions trying to get the government to ban arbitrage, an economic activity as natural as breathing.

    If the issue is that concert promoters don't want their venues filled with 40-year-old suits, then they should set an age limit and be done with it. Nightclubs are allowed to refuse entry to people if their face doesn't fit or if it would result in a gender imbalance inside, even if they're willing to pay the entrance fee, so I fail to see why there should be a problem with this.

  12. Mr Fury
    Thumb Up

    Ebay correct for once!

    Ebay's spot on for a change. If you're not going to let customers return unwanted tickets for a refund, then you can't stop them selling them on without looking like a bunch of jerks - although that does appear to be the image Labour's after these days.

    And when you look at places like viagogo, ebay and the touts seem almost to be legitimate in their pricing.

  13. The Dark Lord
    Paris Hilton

    The whole thing...

    ... has the ghastly stench of righteous indignation.

    I agree with Flatspot above. It's all about the fact that in spite of the increasingly outrageous ticket prices for events, people are still willing to pay more on the 'secondary market' when availability of first-sell tickets runs out. Promoters have been playing on this with the "George W Bush allocation" ("look, I just found some more [strike]votes[/strike]tickets").

    Frankly, everyone needs to stop whingeing.

    Paris, because she likes a good moan.

  14. 4a$$Monkey

    Goverment request moon on a stick

    So the government are asking for the moon on a stick again - that's fine we'll just whip up a magic system that will stop people form being able to sell the tickets then.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    All too common

    Seems to be too much effort nowadays for the Government to go through the traditional route of introducing legislation.

    It's even too much effort to go through their favoured back-door route of the Order in Council and Ministerial Order to get want they want introduced.

    So now they just say 'do exactly what we want, or we'll introduce laws to make you do it'.

    Where exactly is the incentive in that? If you're going to do something - particularly if a cost is involved - it may as be because they made you do it rather than because you 'volunteered' under pressure.

    Personally I suspect this kind of measure is 'suggested' when they realise that an actual law has no chance of being introduced, or would fail under subsequent judicial scrutiny. Whereas with 'voluntary' measures & codes of practice this is no longer a problem.

    F*ck government by decree.

  16. SmokeyMcPotHead

    Point missed...

    I think the overall point is being missed, and probably muddled by greedy eBay. It's not about stopping joe public selling tickets for event that they can no longer go to, it's about stopping touts buying loads of tickets and denying real fans from paying the normal ticket price. True enough the only real way to stop the practice is for folks not to cough up stupid money for these events. But then people are often stupid, and many have more money than common sense, which in turn leads us to legislation.

  17. Rande Knight

    Ebay the tickets.

    How about they stick the tickets on ebay to start with?

    Let them sell for what the punters think they are worth.

    Would reduce the number of touts to barely anything because all the profit has already been taken.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: Hmm

    "Surely event tickets are a scarce commodity, and so will be priced according to demand on an open market? If people are willing and able to pay hundreds of pounds for rare tickets, then why not?"

    If an event is popular, because people who want to go to the event are buying tickets to go to the event, then fair enough. However, event tickets become an even more scarce commodity when touts are block-buying.

    If touts block-buy, the tickets become artificially rare and so they can charge hundreds of pounds for "rare" tickets.

    Stop block buying (and block selling), rather than stop all "2nd hand" selling, and everyone (except the touts) is (mostly) happy. The people selling tickets first hand, and the people who run the 2nd hand markets can do this.

    Paris, cos she doesn't need to sell tickets for her shows...

  19. JohnG

    Tourists are the main victims

    Visitors to the London often fancy going to see a show in the West End and then find out they have to cough up stupidly high prices (100 quid +) for a seat which was supposed to cost about 30 quid.

    Some ticket touts have resorted to methods like DOSing the official website offering tickets, so Joe Public will never have a chance to buy them online.

    Whilst I don't normally agree with anything this government gets up to, I think the ticket touts are bunch of c*nts and would happily see them put out of business.

  20. mattmoo

    What about the cheap tickets?

    In the past 4 years, because of ebays policies, i have managed to get;

    2 x V Festival Tickets inc 6 x bacardi and coke vouchers for £150 saving me around 50%

    6 x Beastie Boys tickets @ £15 each saving me over 50%

    1 x Reading Festival ticket around face value.

    How have i done this? Well i am not DESPERATE to go to any event, if i see something i like the look of i will wait until a day or two before the event to get the tickets.

    The V Festival tickets above, i have to drive 100 miles to pick up adding a little to the cost but it is worth it given the total saving.

    With other events i have waited until the day and picked them up or meet people outside.

    It depends entirely on the demand and had ebay not had the tickets then i would definatley not have got the tickets, i would not pay full price for certain events as i don't think its worth it a majority of the time and in Reading festivals case, its a hit and miss trying to get on the webstie/ticket agents in the ~4 hours you have before they sell out.

    Ebay has been responsible for me going to lot of event, don't take this away now otherwise i will be forced to trawl the net for the inevitable other ways to get tickets.



  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Best interests of consumers" - whatever...

    If anyone was interested in the best interests of consumers they'd be investigating why so many tickets are given out as comps to VIPs, corporates & celebrities.

    If anyone was interested in the best interests of consumers they'd be investigating how tens of thousands of tickets for sports, concerts and similar events can be magically "sold" within minutes of opening by the promoters.

    If anyone was interested in the best interests of consumers they'd be looking into the common practices of stripping everyone of any personal food or drink items and then charging them £3 for a can of Fanta or even water inside the arena.

    "Best interests of consumers".... yeah right. Whatever is best for that bigmouth Harvey Goldsmith's pockets more like. There's nothing he'd like more than to capture the reseller market for his own benefit.

  22. Ed

    The Government...

    seem to be doing a lot of 'Do this or we'll force you to do it' things don't they?

  23. Righteously Indignant
    Black Helicopters


    I agree with Flatspot too - I am also fed up with labour. They need to sort their priorities out - why is it ok for them to legislate on this alleged 'abuse' of consumer rights and yet they refuse point blank to get involved in the phorm debacle - which is a much more real threat and one that will affect a lot more people...

    The cynic in me believes that it may be something to do with being able to cream their own information from the phorm harvest to keep an ever closer eye on an increasingly 'untrustworthy' (that should read 'untrusting') populace.

  24. Paul Buxton

    @Stephane Mabille

    "I might have missed something, but an easy solution might be to ban any resell of ticket above face value."

    That would annoy the distributors who never sell tickets at face value (ever heard of booking charges?).

  25. Dennis Armstrong

    Try a new method of selling tickets

    Well actually the promotors of the event should try a different method of selling the tickets. For example when the tickets to the event go on sale, 4 or 3 months before the concert date the price (for example) would be 500 pounds per seat

    when you buy the ticket you get to specify which seat you want. Each day the ticket price goes down (1, 5 or 10 pounds per day), total number of tickets left is shown.

    The ticket touts can buy as many tickets as they want, they have to resell in competition with the concert promotor. The real keen fans will pay the 500 pounds, others will wait untill the price comes down to what they can afford if they want to go.

  26. Geoff Mackenzie

    What a great idea

    Let's ban selling anything for more than you paid for it. That would be good for the economy.

    This isn't consumer protection, it's just protectionism. Big mercantilists don't like little capitalists.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    "How hard is it to setup a website that limits ticket transactions? Such as registering first to a valid email address, limit to 4 tickets, credit card only to the address of the holder etc. etc.."

    Easily bypassed. There are a couple of guys at work who buy tickets to sell on eBay, at least 6 other colleagues have purchased tickets on their behalf (myself included). I pay for the tickets on my credit card and get them sent to my home, my colleagues pay me as soon as I have placed the order (the total cost plus a little bit) and I bring the tickets in for them when they arrive.

    We did manage to get 28 tickets for one event where the ticket office was limiting sales to 4 per customer.

  28. BatCat

    Non-paying bidder

    1. Set up an ebay account with bogus details.

    2. Get some auction sniping software

    3. Set up huge bids for every ticket sale you can find

    4. Win all the auctions

    5. Don't pay

    6. Touts have to relist

    Repeat until a) touts stop listing or b) the ticketed event has been and gone, leaving touts with worthless tickets.

  29. OSBob
    Thumb Up

    @Ian Dennison

    "Ever seen "Price bid tv"? Where you put your bid in for one of [x] many items, and the minimum bid to obtain an item creeps up accordingly?"

    Don't those scam channels usally work the -other- way round. The minimum bid goes -down- until all the items are sold (so they claim) and everybody gets it at the same price (to make sure people aren't afraid to make early purchases).

    And anyway they add £50 post and package or some ludicrous figure like that, plus £20 for the call to the premium number... ok maybe not quite as much but still loads more than it should be.

    The other day flicked past one of those channels, and saw they had come tacky ring which they claimed would normally sell at £16k... watched to see the first price drop... down to £899... yeah right, of course it was worth £16k..

    Real auction might work though.

  30. Red Bren

    Sorry, no refunds

    Yet again, the entertainment industry is trying to sell the same item repeatedly.

    Buy a ticket in the primary market and you have to pay the face value of the ticket. Plus a booking fee. Plus an administration fee. Plus a credit card fee. Plus postage. And they have the cheek to complain about other people profiteering?

    Most ticket vendors refuse to give refunds unless the event is cancelled. You have to buy your ticket months in advance, often before the lineup has been announced and if you can't go, tough. If they provided a refund mechanism for the face value of the ticket (minus yet another admin fee, probably) they could sell the ticket again, along with all the additional charges.

    As for the phoney concern about "real fans" being deprived of the chance of going to an event, B***SH*T! As an example, something like 30% of the new Wembley Stadium is set aside for corporate hospitality and ends up unused. Perhaps if less tickets were allocated to corporate hospitality, there would be more available for fans.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    @Righteously Indignant

    Nah you got that wrong!

    It just that there is no potential for kick backs or directorships when they don't get re elected.

  32. Mike Richards

    Clearly a priority

    Now that the Dear Leader has solved the trivial problems of taxation, terrorism, climate change, economic meltdown, and food and energy shortages, he can turn his attention to the big issues.

    BTW. Is it just me, or does Andy Burnham look like he's made from plastic?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for nothing

    Yet another set of stupid laws from a stupid Goverment! Why do they feel the need to legislate about this, its supply demand market economics for christ sake. If there is a problem with block buying and reselling and fans are getting upset then its the vendors problem as they are upsetting their fans by block selling. They dont actually care though, neither do i and neither should the goverment.

    There are good reasons for the football tout ban on safety reasons but other than that i would leave the market alone.

    If fans are prepared to pay the price the tout asks then fine its their money and the touts profit. If not then its the touts loss and if it upsets the fans its the vendors loss overall.

    I just don't care for any more stupid laws, the BBC just reported that a man got fined a few hundred quid for having his wheelie bin too full, 4" over the lid, heinous. Although they recently just started fortnightly collections rather than weekly and the bins are too small but Labour don't seem have foreseen this!

    This goverment takes with one hand and takes again with the other and then uses its feet kick you in the balls with yet more crap legislation.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ticket problems

    Sporting event operators cause some of the problems themselves. How many times have you read about ticket allocations for fans and been shocked?

    The FA Cup final is a perfect example. Cardiff and Portsmouth are both unlikely to get to a Wembley final again for some time. A large demand is therefore guaranteed and what do they get. 25,000 each. The other 30,000 tickets are split amongst sponsors, corporate clients and wembley for life "fans". Half won't turn up, or will sell their tickets, the other half are more concerned with their prawn sandwiches in the refreshments centre.

    No wonder the touts laugh all the way to the bank.

  35. Eitsop

    Do you think

    that some member of parliment couldn't get hold of a ticket for thier offstring so decided that they would change the law? Can't imagine why else the goverment would do it - doesn't affect them...

  36. fred

    creepy functionality

    When punters buy a ticket ask them to include the name of the person who is going to use it. Then when said person tries to use the ticket s/he can be asked for identification to prove that they are the correct person. This could be nicely included with a new shiny national ID card...

  37. Mister Cheese

    Glastonbury tickets

    Glastonbury seems to have cured the tout problem by putting a photo on the ticket. No ID card required since you will probably bring your face along to match the ticket.

    There are even tickets still available for normal people to buy - so clearly the touts don't like the idea.

  38. Richard Munro

    I'm with eBay...

    ... On this one. I don't see why tickets to sporting (or other) events should be any different to other goods, which can be bought and sold freely (let's leave software licenses to one side for the moment).

    People buying tickets up front are effectively betting on how popular the event will be. Obviously some events are always likely to sell out, but that to me suggests that the original ticket price is too low, and should be put up until demand matches supply.

    Ultimately, some people are going to be priced out of the market, but that's the same for pretty much everything - I'd like a penthouse apartment on the river and a Ferrari, but it ain't gonna happen. If demand is greater than supply, there'll always be rationing by some means, and price is the accepted, and probably best, method.

    I do agree with the exception for 'Free' events, and (somewhat reluctantly), for football. Not easy to enforce, though.

    Mine's the armour-plated one!


  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely if you buy something with the intention of selling it on then you should be paying tax. (or possibly CGT if it just "appreciates").

    If the government wants to clamp down on this it should clamp down on the tax affairs of touts, that way the government also gets a cut of any profits.

    Really though, if you want to pay over the odds to see a concert / sporting event or whatever then be my guest. I look at gigs I fancy and then I look at the price, if the artist (or whoever has set the ticket price + booking fee + card fee + buying it fee + fee fi fo fum fee) is taking the piss I walk away.

    The government should be looking to recover taxes owed but other than that perhaps they should be doing something a bit more productive than this.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issue with block-buys

    @Ian - the problem is that when you corner the market, the free market ideals go away.

    Given: There is a small percentage of people (say, 10%) who can pay ten, twenty times more than your average bloke for a ticket, and a further 10% who are willing to pay quite a bit more. But most can just afford the normal price (as this is how the normal price is set).

    Given: If you block-buy tickets, you set the price for all tickets.

    So, to simplify things, I buy every ticket - 100 of them - for an event for $100 a pop.

    So, I spent $10,000 on tickets. Now I have a few options.

    I can raise the price by 25%. But the market is highly elastic, so I'll probably end up with just about $10k again, since the wealthiest people will buy at the raised price and I'll make only as much on them as on the normal people.

    However, if I sell the tickets for $1000 and $500 a piece, things get fun.

    10 people buy at $1000 - and now I've made back my investment.

    Another 10 people buy at $500, and now I've made $5000 clear profit.

    So now 20 people are going to attend, 80 can't, I've made $5000, and the event people have made $10000.

    So, the results aren't because *all* the tickets are worth $1000 - the results are because there was a monopoly on the market allowing the seller to capitalize on the ability of a few people to pay far, far more than most people.

    True, this is how a totally free market works. But in this scenario the only people who benefit are the scalpers; the rich people pay more than they would have otherwise, the normal people don't get to go at all, and the event organizers, while they make their money, have an event with empty seats - but this only affects them in the long-term, so short-term they have an incentive to allow block buys.

    You can, of course, have a completely unregulated economy. But there are cases like this where a certain amount of regulation prevents people from screwing up the system for everybody else.

    What should that regulation be? Hard to say. I think it's probably more along the lines of preventing block buys greater than N% of the available market, but it's hard to say.

  41. matty

    @Mister Cheese

    Totally agree with the above!

    Instead of introducing more stupid legislation - provide the option to either upload a photo or give the names of the people who the tickets are for, that way people have the option to bring photographic ID to the venue if they don't have a photo to upload!

    If the ticket sellers were smart, they could operate a change/cancellation policy and charge punters a small fee to change any details or to cancel their booking, just like airlines, such as easyJet, have done for years! At least this way, the touts are taken out of the equation, the sellers get more revenue and even the taxman is happy!

    The government need to focus on the wider issues of the country and not be wasting OUR money with such stupid nonsense!!!

  42. Anonymous Coward

    Easy option

    E-Touting is only so common now because it is easy. It takes only minutes to stick tickets on ebay and make a few hundred quid in profit. The traditional tout had to wait around outside the venue for a while to sell them, so effectively spending more more and more time, plus the risk that it would be wasted if no one bought the tickets.

    If someone can stop e-touting then it would be a good thing.

  43. Paul Lockett

    More "Voluntary Solution" Rubbish

    We've got a government that loves to legislate on anything it can, so when it starts saying that it is promoting a voluntary scheme and if that doesn't work it will legislate, it can only mean one thing - legislation is unworkable and the government is trying to bluff its way through.

  44. Neil Docherty

    Kinda agree/kinda disagree...

    I think the event organisers should employ a similar approach to Glastonbury to prevent the touts as ultimately the people who lose out are the fans and the event host (half empty stadium/field/arena = less beverages sold, atmosphere not as good, poor PR for people who couldn't go).

    I do, however, agree with eBay regarding the official refund option. I've always felt the 'no refund unless we say so' clause was very one sided (unfair contract term even). If they had a policy which said you can return a ticket for a full refund up to n (maybe 7, 14 or 28) days in advance and possibly even fewer days in advance if they can resell your ticket (the reasons above mean this is a good idea) then everyone would benefit.

    Of course, either proposal shafts eBay but then it may give them a bit more time to help out that poor bloke who keeps trying to get people to ship their items to a relative in Nigeria!

  45. Kanhef
    Thumb Up

    @Dennis Armstrong

    Great idea! No need for photo ID, or restrictions on buying or reselling. The promoter's price would always be lower than any tout's, so no one would buy secondhand until the promoter runs out. In theory, touts could monopolize the market by buying up most of the tickets early on, but the cost would be prohibitory (tens of thousands for a single theater performance, millions for a stadium). Reselling enough of them to make a profit would be difficult, given the high prices they'd have to charge.

  46. Dave Cheetham

    Face Value

    I am 100% in favour of stopping ticket touts and block booking, as people who don't have big money to spend are deprived of attending the events. We are a sick society where only the rich can do these things.

    Make it so that tickets can be sold on ebay or anywhere but legally cannot be sold for more than face value.

    Mines the coat I bought at a charity shop. Hope theres some tickets in the pocket.

  47. Steve Evans

    Nanny state strikes again...

    Don't HM Gov have anything better to do? You know, like selling us further down the river to the US of Europe?

    If I buy a couple of tickets for one of these premium events and then find I'm unable to go, why the hell should I be prevented from selling a ticket I cannot use on ebay?

    I guess eBay should be able to set a max bid on a ticket, so a ticket cannot be sold above face value, or maybe face value plus 5% to cover the eBay commission. That sounds like a nice middle ground solution to me, although we all know what eBay are like at policing listings. I've lost count how many listings I have reported that have "BMW not Audi not VW not Merc not Ford" in their title. I could give them a regular expression to spot these if I could find someone willing to listen!

    As someone else has already mentioned, e-touting is pretty new. I'm sure all the touts can remember how to do it the traditional way in a big coat with large pockets outside the venue. "Pssst, 'ere gov, do you need a ticket?"

    If they really want to stop this, surely the thing to do is stop the ticket agents selling 200 tickets to one person in the first place!

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