Yesterday was an exciting day if you’re a fan of music, popular culture or the sight of watching grown men in their late 60s continue to strut around onstage with no shame whatsoever. The Rolling Stones announced their first live dates for half a decade; there will be two in the US next month and two in the UK at London’s O2 Arena. How much will you need to spend for a ticket? The minimum is around £100 and the most expensive seats are about £400 (excluding a VIP ticket deal that breaks the four digit barrier). This is a vast sum of money and the reasons why this is a vast sum have kind of been covered in a post I did a few months ago about the price of Radiohead tickets for their recent UK shows.
One thing that was noticeable though was that secondary ticket markets already, somehow, had tickets listed on their websites. GetMeIn (which is owned by Ticketmaster), Viagogo and Seatwave had tickets that ranged from around £300 to over £1000, country miles above face value. Here’s a screengrab I took of GetMeIn’s ticket page for the first of the two London shows at around lunchtime yesterday:
Since then, more tickets have been added and the value has increased. According to The Media Blog, 278 tickets had been added with prices ranging from £275-£11,000 by around 4pm yesterday. Country miles had suddenly become continental miles all to quickly. Also, if you’ve forgotten, this is before they’ve even gone onsale to the public (they’re made available this Friday morning).
Last night, I decided to contact GetMeIn, Viagogo and Seatwave and ask why they were already selling tickets. Instead of going through the usual media contacts, I decided to e-mail customer service under a completely different name under a different e-mail account that I’ve had for years but haven’t used much (because it’s a terrible e-mail account name that would be laughed at if I were to use it professionally). It’s also used to save the risk of them Googling my real name if my e-mail raised any suspicions, since I’ve ranted about the secondary ticket market before. Yes, it’s cheeky, but I doubt I’d have gotten any meaningful responses had I used my real name.
This lunchtime, I got a call from someone at GetMeIn who wanted to respond to my e-mail via phone (I had to put my number in their contact form so this wasn’t entirely unexpected but still came a bit of the blue). The person on the phone, to summarise, said that all the people selling tickets were “authorised sellers” and indicated that there was nothing fishy going on. Anyone who’s seen Channel 4’s Dispatches documentary on the secondary ticket market may, like me, be a lot more skeptical. Sadly, I wasn’t able to gain any information that was revelatory in any way but I admire the fact that they called me to ease my concerns.
I guess this is how companies like GetMeIn lure in customers. By appearing as some uber-friendly business that always looks out for the concerns of the customer (via good customer service departments both via phone and on the internet, including social media), they try to make themselves look better than primary sources such as SeeTickets and Ticketmaster that offer a comparatively poor service. Whilst I understand that using SeeTickets and Ticketmaster can be a horrific experience at the best of times that’s on a par with watching an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, at least they’re offering me face value tickets.
I will update this blog entry if I hear anything from Seatwave or Viagogo. Once I’ve got replies from both, or if time passes without a reply, I’ll post a copy of the e-mail I sent them.
UPDATE – 18/10/12 – Yesterday lunchtime, as I was making my way to Farnham, I spotted an e-mail from Seatwave. Here is their response:
Dear [name redacted],
Many thanks for your e-mail.
Please note that by listing tickets on our website sellers need to guarantee that they are able to provide with this ticket. They are aware that there will be financial conseqences in case they fail to provide with the tickets they have sold you.
By purchasing tickets from Seatwave you are protected by our Ticket Integrity Policy in case you do not receive the tickets you have ordered.
In the meantime should you have any further questions or queries please do not hesitate to contact us.
So, like GetMeIn, they’re reassuring me that the tickets there are from genuine sellers and that there would be financial consequences if this was not the case. Again, nothing revelatory.