British festival season is in full swing. Reading and Leeds Festivals, RiZE Festival, Bestival, Belladrum, plus dozens of smaller music and cultural events.
It’s all part of the booming experience economy, where growing numbers prefer to spend their money doing things rather than buying things.
But that demand means that people are prepared to pay more than the face value of tickets that sell out fast, and this has led to a global industry of ticket touting. Touts with super-fast internet connections snap up tickets to popular gigs and festivals ahead of the real fans and then sell them back at a marked-up price.
Fortunately, the music industry is fighting back to stop their fans from being swindled by unacceptably high re-sell prices. However, this means that some resale tickets become void once they are resold, leading to fans who have bought genuine tickets being turned away at the gate.
There has also been a surge in ticket fraud. So if you’re planning to buy a resold ticket to one of the summer’s big festivals or music events, you need to take steps to ensure your purchase is safe.
Be aware of ticket fraud
Between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018, Action Fraud received 6,486 reports of ticket fraud, with victims losing an average of £568 each.
And there is evidence that fraudsters take advantage of the summer months to trick people out of even more cash. Some will post as an agent or website for a popular event, deceiving people into paying for tickets that never turn up or are fake.
Pauline Smith, Director of Action Fraud, says: “Criminals are taking advantage of people’s desire to buy tickets for popular concerts and sporting events, which are often sold out. It’s so important that people are vigilant and aware that there are fraudsters all over the globe trying to make money out of innocent victims.
“To avoid disappointment, [you should] always buy tickets from an official event organiser or website. If you are tempted to buy from a secondary ticket source, research the company or person online before making the purchase.”
Not all ticket fraud takes place on such an industrial scale though, plenty of it is down to crooks pretending to sell the same tickets online to multiple people via resale websites and forums.
Luke Massie is the founder of Vibe Tickets, a fan-to-fan marketplace for tickets. He recommends spending some time researching before paying.
“Do you have any information about the seller? If the resale site requires seller profiles, you’ll be able to do your own checks … You can directly ask the seller to send you a picture of the ticket or ticket confirmation before you buy it.
“When you’ve decided you want to purchase a ticket, pay safely. If you buy a ticket on a resale site via a bank transfer or PayPal Friends and Family, you won’t receive buyer protection, so use PayPal Goods and Services instead.
“Also, be aware that PayPal buyer’s protection only lasts for 180 days. If the event is more than six months away, you may want to wait until nearer the time to make your purchase.”
Buy from the right site
Some music events now ban ticket resales to stop touts from cashing in, so it’s essential to be confident that you will be allowed to use the ones you buy.
Jessi Dimmock, festival blogger at wheresmytent.com, has some recommendations for people who want tickets but don’t want to enrich touts or risk being refused entry.
“The best sites I’ve used to resell or buy tickets have been Twickets and TicketSwap. Twickets only let you sell for maximum face value, so you’re always dealing with a real person who genuinely can’t attend anymore; they just want their money back and for someone else to enjoy it instead.
“TicketSwap let you charge up to 20 per cent over face value so people can make a small profit for popular gigs; yet they avoid scam sellers by making you enter the barcode of the ticket you are selling (so no selling the same ticket to multiple people!).”
Know the rules
Massie warns that reselling is not always allowed: “Find out if there are any limitations on the resale of tickets for your chosen festival. For example, Glastonbury manages its own resale. If festival season means Pyramid Stage or Healing Fields for you, you’ll need to buy from the festival directly if you miss out on tickets this October.”
Dimmock agrees this can be a real danger: “No real music lover minds paying face value or even a little more to see a sold out or last-minute gig.
“Just make sure you check the T&Cs of the individual event, as some insist on the ticket holder name matching ID on entry. Never buy from social media sites, touts stood outside the gig venue itself or websites that sell tickets for a hugely inflated price.”