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Industry News

FanFair Alliance questions Ticketmaster’s resolve to beat touts

FanFair Alliance, the anti-touting campaign group, has questioned Ticketmaster’s commitment to holding professional touts to the same strict purchasing limits that are imposed on ordinary fans.

While the firm is a primary ticketing marketplace where fans can go to buy their tickets when they first go on sale, Ticketmaster also owns resale sites GetMeIn and Seatwave. These secondary platforms typically take up to 25 per cent on ticket sales and have become a profitable market for touts.

UK newspaper the Guardian reported that an analysis of GetMeIn found that there were 18 tickets listed by one company for a Norah Jones (pictured) show as part of the Summer Series at Somerset House in London. Ticketmaster is the venue’s primary ticket agent.

The report also found the same firm advertising 12 tickets for Goldfrapp and 20 tickets for Birdy as part of the same series of concerts, with all well above face value.

The Somerset House website directs fans to the Ticketmaster website and states that “tickets may not be sold or transferred”. The ticketing company’s terms and conditions state that there is a “maximum of six tickets per transaction. Please adhere to published ticket limits.”

Additionally, its disclaimer says that if the same person is flagged buying several batches of tickets, Ticketmaster has the right to cancel them without notice.

FanFair Alliance has questioned whether the firm is doing enough to counter touts, since its subsidiary resale companies stand to profit from sales by those who skirt the boundaries.

FanFair Alliance said: “This looks like one rule for fans, and another for professional touts – with a network of third-party businesses able to bulk-buy tickets above the stated limits, and then resell on secondary at inflated prices.”

Ticketmaster said it enforces ticket limits “set by event organisers, in accordance with their instructions”.

The promoter of the Summer Series at Somerset House is Metropolis Music, owned by LiveNation, which also owns Ticketmaster.

Scrutiny of secondary ticketing platforms has increased in recent years, though the efforts to curb touting has focused mainly on the use of bots. Touts use a variety of methods to scalp tickets, including the use of multiple credit cards.

Recently, Ticketmaster’s chief digital officer and executive vice-president of data science and engineering, John Carnahan, hailed the company’s new weapon to beat ticket bots, Verified Fan.

Bots are only a part of the problem, the Ticketmaster executive said. There is other software designed to reserve as many seats as possible and hold on to tickets for hours. This pushes fans to the secondary market while very few tickets are actually sold through Ticketmaster.