Ticket scalping is every festival, sporting event or large concert’s worst nightmare. It’s tough to combat and often leaves the most devoted fans disappointed.
I’ve been to more festivals and gigs than I can begin to count and the rush to get those tickets before they sell out is one of the most restless and anxious processes for me.
You know the drill: it’s the morning the tickets go on sale, you jump online in plenty of time and refresh your ticket page every minute until it’s time… You’re through the first page! You’ve selected your tickets and have been put in a queue to pay. You’re waiting… waiting… waiting in ‘the green room’ or for your tickets ‘in reservation’ when a window pops up saying the tickets have sold out! Your stomach drops and your heart is heavy. Have I missed out? It says my tickets are in reservation, so do I have them? What do I do? I can’t miss this one!
Quickly, you open up eBay and Gumtree to see if there are any tickets up. Maybe someone accidently got an extra one or someone backed out last minute and there’s a ticket up there for cost price. Not likely!
Ticket scalping has always been a problem for festival and event organisers and with this new bot software it is becoming very difficult to fight the problem. Not to mention the incredibly inflated prices which on-sellers charge! My most recent experience was trying to get tickets for Falls Music and Arts Festival in Lorne. I’d been planning a road trip down the coast of New South Wales and Victoria, the classic Great Ocean Road experience, Falls Festival included. I was on 3 separate devices the morning tickets went on sale and got through to select my tickets within 2 minutes so I did just that.
Fearing the worst after being in the queue for 10 minutes I jumped over to Gumtree to see if there were any tickets on the site yet and I was shocked at what I discovered. 1 x 4 day pass to the Lorne event, which is currently the only sold out event, up for sale for over $700. That’s almost double the original price of the tickets!
This person, the ticket scalper, had no intention of ever attending the event, anticipated its popularity and is now taking advantage of the music fan that missed out. Being in this position myself, having missed out on tickets, I am devastated and disappointed. Devastated because I refuse to let the ticket scalper win therefore will not pay the inflated price (even though I think it’s a bargain considering the line-up) and disappointed because I would never want to deprive another human being of something they love just so I could make a quick few bucks. It’s cheating!
There are so many risks involved with buying tickets from unauthorised sellers that many people don’t realise. For example many tickets are now emailed online as eTickets and can be forwarded on to many people however only one ticket will be valid at the event. What a disappointment! Travelling how ever many kilometres, arriving at an event to find out your ticket isn’t valid because someone else has already used a copy of it! There is little, if anything, event organisers can do for you because you didn’t buy it from an authorised seller and the person you did buy it from is difficult to track down. In the event of a cancelled show ticket refunds are usually issued to the person who originally purchased the ticket and refunded straight into their bank account, leaving it in the hands of the cheat to choose to give you your money back or not.
So the question remains, what can we do to counteract and discourage ticket scalpers? Well, there are a few systems in place. One of the most successful festivals in Australia that has cracked down on ticket scalping is Splendour in the Grass. I celebrated a decade of Splendours this year and the ticket system now is very different to how it was at the beginning, and it definitely works. No one pays an inflated price from a scalper because ID must match the ticket. When purchasing tickets online you must have full name and date of birth for each ticket holder and must match the ID shown at the gate. If you are suddenly unable to attend the event, which is the genuine reason for many ticket on-sellers, you are able to sell your ticket back to Splendour and they would be put up for resale through the site. It’s safe, effective and makes it virtually impossible for unauthorised sellers to get involved.
Meredith Music Festival has a similar program in place where you can resell tickets through the website and people who missed out have another shot at getting tickets from the authorised seller. These systems really work and, hopefully other festivals and events will catch on in the near future.