ASTA’s Word Is Its Bond

All members of the Association Of Secondary Ticket Agents are to be bonded under a scheme underwritten by Lloyds Of London and scrutinised by the Financial Services Authority.

ASTA chairman Graham Burns said the move is a reaction to the collapse of two U.K. secondary ticket agencies that appears to have cost sport and music fans about £7 million.

The bond will cover up to £2.5 million of client money, thereby ensuring the consumer is put at no risk as long as they buy tickets from a member of ASTA.

If an ASTA member tanks and fails to deliver tickets, the consumer will receive a total refund -– regardless of how the tickets were purchased.

Burns said the association has voluntarily undertaken the self-regulating move, which is to start in October.

The ticket agencies that sign up to make the bond will display the ASTA and Lloyds Of London logos on their Web sites, letting the customer know they’re covered.

Burns said his association feels it’s taking a step in the right direction and hopes the government will look upon the initiative as working toward its wish for secondary market self-regulation.

Burns also believes the government could do more to prevent ticketing scams if it ran its scambusters Web site more efficiently.

He claims he contacted the site, which is run by the Office Of Fair Trading, and gave warnings about Xclusiv – now bankrupt with debts of more than £3 million – and SOS Masterticket, a Spanish-based company that disappeared with another £3.5 million of punters’ cash.

Burns said he’s fed up with ringing the Web site’s hotline and nobody responds to his calls.

“It goes to an electronic answering service which, when full, deletes the oldest message,” he said. “The department was required to provide a telephone line for the public to call, but at no time was it required to actually do anything with the complaints.

“I might as well have shrieked at the moon – at least the neighbours would have heard.”