The Irish Times view on ticket resales: a calculated move

This is not the end for ticket touts – or even the beginning of the end

U2 fan Martin Gannon from Ballyfermot after getting  tickets at the Ticketmaster branch in St Stephens Green Shopping Centre, Dublin. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

U2 fan Martin Gannon from Ballyfermot after getting tickets at the Ticketmaster branch in St Stephens Green Shopping Centre, Dublin. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

While the announcement from Ticketmaster that it will shut down its ticket resale website Seatwave in October is to be applauded, the idea that it has made the move after it “listened to and heard” its customers is scarcely credible.

For years customers have expressed concern over the manner in which Ticketmaster has normalised an absurd booking fee system which sees additional service charges attached to every ticket purchased as opposed to each transaction carried out. Ticketmaster has never “listened to and heard” these concerns. It profited handsomely from its fee structure and always put - as big multinationals tend to do - its best interests first. So it is today. It is scrapping Seatwave because the twin tides of popular opinion and legal oversight are against it but also because by doing so it gets first mover advantage over its rivals.

Music and sports fans and artists have become increasingly angered by the ease with which 21st century touts exploit technology to hoover up large numbers of tickets to sought-after events before selling them at sometimes massive mark-ups on Seatwave and other platforms. Touts and resellers make money by charging substantial commission. The only losers are the fans.

Legislation making its way through the Oireachtas will outlaw sales above face value for concerts at venues with capacities of over 1,000. That would probably have brought the curtain down on the Seatwave business model here, but it would be wrong to think Ticketmaster acted because of this. Ticketmaster moved because it knows what is happening here is being replicated across Europe and it knows that by acting pre-emptively today, it can score a point against its rivals Viagogo and Stubbub. At the same time, it is casting itself as an unlikely consumer hero through the establishment of a peer-to-peer ticket resale network which will prohibit above-face-value sales.

Touts are very resourceful and while Seatwave will disappear, other platforms will take its place. If there is money to be made from fans, there will always be those who find ways to make it.

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