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A new study claims secondary ticketing sites "harvest swathes of tickets" with botnet software

13 November 2015, 11:02 | Written by Laurence Day

Consumer group Which? have stumbled across some shady practices in the secondary ticketing industry.

According to Which?, some fans are missing out on shows and events - this covers music, theatre, comedy, sports etc. - because of the actions of online ticket resellers.

Just to be clear, this isn't someone flogging a ticket on Twitter as they can no longer go to the gig, this is major websites buying tickets to artificially inflate prices at huge profit.

Over the course of eight weeks, Which? examined the selling patterns of Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub!, and Viagogo, finding that tickets were sometimes available on resale sites before they were even officially released.

Which? said that certain resale restrictions were being flouted by these sites.

One case in particular, looking at Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet at the Barbican, saw tickets rising to £1500 (face value £62.50), even though the venue itself was operating a no resell policy. Under the updated Consumer Rights Act 2015, fans need to be "notified of any restrictions on the tickets, all seating details and the original face value of the ticket." Which? claims that these rules in particular are "repeatedly" broken by all major secondary ticket sites.

Although not currently illegal to tout in this way, Which? claims that the sites go much further in their pursuit of profit: "It is likely that some of the selling patterns we encountered are only possible because of the use of ‘botnets’. This is software readily available on the internet and used by touts to harvest swathes of tickets the second they go on sale."

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is calling for evidence as it reviews ticket resale laws. Which? is sending its evidence to the government.

Which?'s executive director Richard Lloyd says of the situation: "People get rightly frustrated losing out on popular tickets, particularly when they end up on sale at the same time on secondary sites at higher prices. "We need the government review to crack down on those who resell tickets at inflated prices on an industrial scale."

StubHub! - who created anti-reform lobbying group Fan Freedom UK - said in a statement: "We do not own, purchase or price tickets. It is very clear in our terms and conditions that sellers are not permitted to list or sell tickets that they do not own or that have not been allocated to them, known as speculative selling... there are many cases where fans will have access to priority tickets in advance of an official on-sale and this is one reason why tickets can be listed so quickly."

Read more about the findings on Which?.

Find out more about the government's public consultation into secondary ticketing in our recent article.

If you want to make your voice heard, you should submit your views before 20 November 2015.

Find out more about the secondary ticketing review from DICE's Fans First campaign.

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