03.Scalping and cancellations
Gaynor Jenkins is 15 years old and a big fan of UK boy band One Direction. When the group announced it was coming down under for a whirlwind East Coast tour in April 2012, she was desperate to get her hands on tickets, which went on sale at 9am Eastern Standard Time on 6 March 2012.
Unfortunately, Perth resident Jenkins didn’t realise she would have to account for the time difference. By the time she did, it was too late.
“They’re very popular and they haven’t come to Australia before so everyone was on a high,” she says. “But the show sold out in three minutes, there were no tickets left at all! I couldn’t believe it, I was so shocked. I’d already booked my flight to Brisbane, because they weren’t playing in Perth.”
Ticket scalping is the resale of tickets at a premium price by someone who has not been authorised by the presenter to do so. Like those $4000 tickets to One Direction, tickets of every description to sold-out events are traded openly on eBay. When Jenkins searched for tickets to the show on eBay, she discovered she could still attend – at a high price. “I went on eBay and there was a pair of tickets being sold by someone for $4000 each. Two tickets that should have been $79!”
“People make a living off scalping,” says Cormick. “They hog everyone’s tickets and sell them for ridiculous prices.”
But while fans may be tempted to buy tickets from online scalpers, there are a few things to consider despite the high feedback scores of some sellers. In some states, scalping tickets for sporting events is illegal and those caught engaging in it can face large fines.
Live Performance Australia (LPA) is the peak body for the live entertainment and performing arts industry. Ticket sales through member agencies are bound by the LPA Ticketing Codes of Practice. Under these codes, ticket scalping constitutes a breach of terms and conditions, and LPA members may cancel scalped tickets without providing a refund.
Lucy Smith (not her real name) is an industry insider with extensive experience working at a major venue and for a promoter. “Promoters and ticketing agencies are looking out on eBay for the novice who has printed their ticket number, or who has taken a photo of a part of the ticket we can use to identify the person who bought it,” she says.
“Agencies are also bound where possible if they can to void the ticket. The good thing is if they’ve got the barcodes they can cancel them.”
Aside from cancelling scalped tickets, some ticketing agencies are also attempting to discourage scalping in other ways. Ticketek and Ticketmaster, for example, limit the maximum number of tickets that can be purchased in one transaction.
Moshtix aims to deter scalping by, according to Marnane, “collecting the name and date of birth of attendees at time of purchase and printing these on the tickets, limiting the number of tickets able to be purchased in each transaction… [and] cancelling tickets on discovery of a re-sale attempt not in accordance with a Moshtix supported process.”
There are some benefits to buying tickets through established ticketing vendors. Some, including Ticketmaster, Ticketek and Moshtix, offer refunds in cases where events are cancelled or postponed. Ticketek and Ticketmaster both also sell ticket insurance, which allows customers to seek a refund in certain circumstances. But if a ticket is purchased through a scalper, or directly from a promoter, the consumer may not be so lucky.
Jen, a music fan, scored tickets to the Playground Weekender music festival, to be held at Wisemans Ferry in NSW in March in 2012. Trouble was, no-one anticipated the fact that the heavens might open and the Hawkesbury River would be a no-go zone. The event’s organisers cancelled the event just a few days before it was set to run, claiming “… a natural disaster is not something a small business such as Playground Festivals Pty Ltd has been able to cope with.”
Some foiled festival goers, such as those who paid by credit card or PayPal within a certain period of time before the festival, were able to receive a refund. But others, like Jen were not so lucky.
“My friend paid for our tickets with PayPal, but apparently you can only dispute this up until 45 days after the transaction and he got our tickets a while ago,” she says. “He’s still trying to get the money back.”