Summer stadium and arena shows by Take That, Madonna, Oasis and U2 are likely to be targeted by fraudulent ticket operations, according to one leading U.K. promoter.
Rob Ballantine, director of Manchester-based SJM Concerts, tells Billboard.biz that he is expecting huge problems this summer, with fans losing out. SJM is promoting dates for Oasis and Take That. Both acts play London's Wembley Stadium this summer, along with U2.
In addition to the problems of scalping, where ticket touts make huge profits outside venues and online via the secondary market, Ballantine is concerned about scams where tickets are being offered for sale that sellers don't actually possess. Companies often have unofficial Web sites incorporating the act's name.
Last summer, there was a surge in complaints to consumer protection bodies over festival and concert tickets that were purchased but did not turn up.
One ticket agency, Xclusive Tickets, went into liquidation in August 2008 with around 2,600 customers who did not receive tickets they had bought for Reading, Leeds and V Festivals. Another company, SOS Master Tickets, failed to supply tickets for the festivals and George Michael tour and was then unable to be contacted, prompting an investigation by trading standards officers in Islington, London.
"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," says Ballantine. "Take That, Oasis, Madonna, U2, all the big ones this summer, they're all going to have huge problems."
Ballantine says there were problems every night on the recent Killers arena tour, promoted by SJM.
"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," he says.
In some cases, buyers are told their tickets will be handed to them before the event. The seller may source tickets before the show or outside the venue or festival, with the aim of making a big profit overall. But Ballantine says if they can't find enough tickets, they just never meet all the buyers who have already paid online by credit card.
The Concert Promoters' Association (CPA), of which Ballantine is chairman, launched a secondary ticket exchange, OfficialBoxOffice.com, last month in response to what it claimed was the U.K. government's failure to act on scalping. The site is designed to be a secure platform to buy secondary tickets, although many promoters are still unhappy about the existence of the secondary market.
"We're not looking to push it [the site] because we still don't feel the secondary market is something that should exist," says Ballantine. "But it is there if people want to do genuine transactions and to buy with some sort of safety."
He adds that the site will also offer a safe option for fans who do get caught out by ticket scams, where tickets have not been delivered, and still want to try and get to a show.
"Our biggest drive for it will be over the summer when presumably thousands of people have been duped again," he says.
Ballantine adds that SJM has never worked with an act that has incorporated a secondary market platform as an official sales partner. "We don't encourage it but if one of our artists says this is a secondary site partner, this is the way we want to go, then we'll talk to them about it," he comments.