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'Clear rules' needed to stop ticket touts ripping off sport and music fans, it is warned

PUBLISHED: 12:57 11 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:15 11 June 2018

Ed Sheeran in concert. Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA WIRE

Ed Sheeran in concert. Picture: BEN BIRCHALL/PA WIRE

"Firm and clear rules" are needed to stop touts buying up tickets for concerts and sporting events before reselling them for huge profits, an MP has warned.

MP Richard Bacon. Picture: SONYA DUNCANMP Richard Bacon. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said there was “great controversy” over the practice, which largely takes place online and he likened to a “wild west” where “people are getting hurt”.

In a House of Commons speech, he highlighted research by Which? that found up to a quarter of tickets for some events were sold through secondary vendors, having already been sold by the original promoter.

Tickets to the first night of the BBC Proms could be found with a 300pc mark-up, he said - with many unaware they were not buying from official sellers.

Fans attending Ed Sheeran concerts have been warned tickets from “unauthorised” sellers will be refused, while Jake Wilson, box office manager for the student union at the UEA, said: “I would say it’s a real problem for all venues, people want to see shows and they will do anything to see them.

“Some ticket resale sites are doing it really well but there needs to be stricter rules for sales and caps.”

Mr Bacon said: “It is certainly true that many consumers have been seriously ripped off by secondary sites and have found huge difficulty in obtaining redress. There is a need for proper consumer protection.” However when there is high demand for any item or service, “we cannot be surprised that it ends up pushing up prices”, he said.

Mr Bacon added: “The most common complaint is that when tickets for a very popular and oversubscribed event such as a rock concert are sold out at their face value within a few minutes of going on sale, the same tickets appear only a few minutes later on the secondary sites at a much higher price. The old question ‘cui bono?’ applies: who benefits?”

He proposed several solutions - for example that primary vendors and promoters should decide who they sell tickets to and at what price, as well as having the power to cancel resold tickets.

He added: “It seems to me that in the area of secondary ticketing, consumers and campaigners are looking for clarity and simplicity.

“They want strong rules that are fair, enforced and easy for everyone to understand. At the moment it feels like the wild west, and people are getting hurt.”

In response, Department for Culture, Media and Sport minister Margot James said: “There is a role for responsible secondary ticketing platforms, if only to give fans the opportunity to resell at a reasonable price tickets for events they are genuinely no longer able to attend. Nevertheless, I am concerned genuine fans are being crowded out.”

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