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CPA concerned about rise of ticket scams

By | Published on Friday 27 March 2009

Rob Ballantine, the chair of the UK’s Concert Promoters’ Association and director of promoters SJM, has warned that he expects a rise in the number of online ticketing scams in the next year. And by that he doesn’t mean people re-selling tickets at a massive mark up via secondary ticketing websites, but people taking money for tickets they don’t have, and then running off into the night shielded by a wall of binary code. Or at the very least unofficial agents who take money for tickets they hope to acquire on the secondary market, but which they then can’t, sometimes sending them into liquidation. Either way the result is the same: music fans part with cash for tickets they don’t get.

His comments follow those incidents last year when trading standards types had to step in after hundreds of people bought tickets for big music events – the Reading and Leeds festivals in particular if I remember rightly – from unofficial online ‘agents’, only to never receive any tickets.

Speaking to Billboard, Ballantine said: “It’s terrible because these are kids, the next generation of fans, that are so enthusiastic about seeing these acts that they will send their money to anybody who seems to be promising them a ticket they can’t find elsewhere. Take That, Oasis, Madonna, U2, all the big ones this summer, they’re all going to have huge problems”.

He adds that one of his company’s recent tours, The Killers UK arena tour, experienced problems with rogue ticket sales at every gig. Some tell punters to pick up their tickets on the night – possibly hoping to get the tickets themselves off real world touts outside the venue – but if there’s problems they just don’t show up to meet their customers. Ballantine: “People are so desperate to see the artists they want to see and they get promises of front row seats or a golden ticket you can’t buy anywhere else, they just hand over their details”.

Presumably Ballantine would quite seriously recommend that music fans always opt for official sellers when buying their tickets, just to be certain. Even if that means buying them off Ticketmaster, who I’m pretty sure Trent Reznor said were evil the other day.

Ballantine also spoke about the CPA’s recent move into the secondary market themselves, with the launch of, a resale site that promises extra controls to protect those buying tickets, and which positions itself very much as a place where people who bought tickets with the intent of going to an event, but who can no longer make it, can resell their tickets, rather than being a new home for online touts.

Ballantine says that many of his trade body’s members are still against the growth of online ticket touting, and still want the government to introduce new laws to restrict it, but given that the government – despite regularly expressing concern about the boom in touting – has done basically nothing, he felt the trade body should try to at least provide a more responsible secondary ticketing service. He told Billboard: “We’re not looking to push it [the site] because we still don’t feel the secondary market is something that should exist. But it is there if people want to do genuine transactions and to buy with some sort of safety”.