Another Tout Bites The Dust

Westminster’s trading standards authority’s investigation into Harley Street Ticket Brokers Ltd. will likely be hampered by the fact that the U.K. tout has ceased trading.

It disappeared from the radar after papers including The Sun reported that “hundreds of fans are raging” after the company failed to come through with Robbie Williams tickets. Some reportedly paid as much as £125 for £50 tickets.

A spokesman for Westminster City Council said there was a “steady stream of complaints” and staff were making efforts to see if tickets for the gigs – mainly the September 11th show at Milton Keynes Bowl – could be recovered.

Pollstar was unable at press time to contact Harley Street director Philip Cooper.

Doris Cooper, who The Sun described as his secretary, was quoted saying, “I’ve been left in the lurch. I don’t know where he is.” Companies House has a Doris Cooper listed as company secretary.

The London borough of Westminster has more trouble with touts than most of its neighbors as many firms like to use its prestigious addresses.

However, these addresses are often used as mail collection points and the companies are seldom based there. Companies House lists Harley Street Ticket Brokers Ltd. as being based in Canvey Island.

“At this stage there is no firm evidence of wrongdoing by this company but there has been a steady stream of complaints about undelivered tickets,” said councillor Audrey Lewis, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for community protection. “These complaints, along with being told the company had ceased trading, compelled us to launch an investigation.

“Westminster’s trading standards team are doing everything in their power to get to the bottom of what is going on with this ticket agency.”

It’s questionable whether the disappearance of Harley Street Brokers has affected the “hundreds of fans” The Sun suggested.

Bob Angus from Metropolis Music, which promoted the Milton Keynes shows, told Pollstar his company hasn’t received any complaints.

Although promoters are not responsible for refunding those who choose to buy from secondary suppliers, they’re often left to face angry fans on the day of.

While feeling sorry for those who shelled out money and lost, Geoff Huckstep from Nottingham Arena, head of the National Arenas’ Association (NAA), said he’s pleased to see another tout go down but he’s also concerned it will just spring up under another name.

He said the government needs to press ahead with its survey on how fans feel about secondary market sellers and, if an industry code of practice can’t be made to work, legislation needs to be brought in as soon as possible.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell is holding a series of industry meetings to discuss ways to tackle the problem, and the September 14th NAA meeting scheduled for Bournemouth Conference Center had the subject at the top of its agenda.

The next NAA meeting is at Wembley Arena on October 17th. The U.K.’s Concert Promoters’ Association has been invited to attend and join the discussion.

– John Gammon