Music

‘I was scammed for £500’ – 90% of music fans say ticketing industry needs to be safer

According to a new study, more than 90 per cent of Brits think the ticketing industry needs to be made safer to stop fans being scammed.

Natasha was scammed trying to buy a resale ticket for The 1975

Matthew Healy of The 1975 at Southside Festival 2014. Credit Markus Hillgärtner

As tours by the likes of Beyoncé and Arctic Monkeys sell out in minutes, the market for resale tickets continues to be buoyant. But if you’re buying from a stranger online, how do you know you won’t be scammed?

The recent tragedy at London’s Brixton Academy, in which a crush outside the venue during a sold-out show by Nigerian star Asake resulted in the deaths of two people, has intensified safety concerns around fake tickets.

According to a new study, more than 90 per cent of Brits think the ticketing industry needs to be made safer. Almost half of respondents to the survey – carried out by consumer researchers Attest, on behalf of ethical resale site TicketSwap – said they had either been a victim of ticket resale fraud themselves or know someone who has been.

Natasha Grove, a 26-year-old teacher from Reading, is among those who have fallen victim to a ticketing scam.

When The 1975 were announced as last-minute headliners for Reading Festival in 2022, Grove was desperate to get tickets for her and her best friend, a huge fan of the band.

“By that point, all the tickets had sold out,” said Grove. “So I went to Twitter and searched for tickets on sale there. I managed to find some that were £500 for both of us. I thought, yeah, sure, I’ll go for it. It all looked legit. I paid via PayPal, and they said the tickets were on their way. The tickets never arrived and then the Twitter was deleted.”

Grove was left out of pocket and feeling “stressed and stupid”. Even worse, she felt like she’d let her friend down. “Thankfully,” Grove said, “she was really lovely, and very understanding.”

To add insult to injury, on the day of the show the pair could hear the strains of Matty Healy and co from their home – but couldn’t get in to the festival they’d paid for. Grove would understandably love to see the ticket industry become safer for consumers. “There has to be more legit ways of being able to buy resale tickets,” she said.

In the UK, it’s legal for individuals to resell a ticket to a concert or other entertainment, but both the Competition and Markets Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority have taken action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking rules. In 2018, the government passed new laws to try and regulate ticket resellers and crack down on bots that bulk buy tickets for resale. Yet fans still struggle to get their hands on tickets.

“Buying tickets is a stressful experience now,” said Grove. “When you’re in that situation and you want to go something, you just sort of spend the money because you want the tickets. It’s probably not the fairest way of doing it.”

Grove said she is now very cautious – and she is not alone. Though more than half of survey respondents revealed they’d previously bought or sold a second-hand ticket and 52 per cent had paid over face value for a ticket to a concert or festival, an overwhelming 70 per cent said they would no longer consider buying a ticket on resale due to the risk of it being a scam and the ticket not working.

Mike Robinson, UK lead at TicketSwap, said: “The opinion of the UK public is clear, and these results support our mission to revolutionise ticketing so that the fans come first. For too long ticket re-sale prices have reached extortionate levels, pricing out even the most dedicated of fans.”

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