Burnham May Act On Rogue Touts

U.K. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is close to launching an industry consultation on rogue ticket sellers, according to the Guardian.

The paper says it’s a response to calls for action from the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA), which is alarmed by the number of rogue operators that carried out high-profile rip-offs during the summer.

The latest example was Paperticket, which was shut down by police after fans complained they never received tickets for gigs by such acts as Kings Of Leon, Barry Manilow and The Killers.

The U.K.’s trading standards officers are concerned that unscrupulous online operators can easily and quickly bring in a lot by collecting money for tickets they don’t have and then disappearing.

“One of the biggest problems is that we generally only find out after there’s a problem,” Tony Northcott of the Trading Standards Institute told the Guardian. “We deal with the aftermath. Because they’re Web-based, they are hard to track down until it’s too late.

“On the Internet, they can be based anywhere in the world. I’ve heard whispers of ticket sites setting up in Dubai and suchlike. Often they’re long gone by the time we’ve tracked them down. Our advice is to be wary and to always pay by credit card.”

Northcott said there’s been a sharp rise in crimes of this nature and also warned that the London 2012 Olympics, which will be high on the government’s list of “crown jewels,” will give rise to a new wave of unscrupulous operators and bogus Web sites.

Despite the views of U.K. concert promoters, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) believes there is little appetite for an outright ban on reselling tickets. However, DCMS is keen to draw a distinction between illegal activity and the resale of tickets by genuine fans who cannot attend an event.

The secondary ticket market is still booming, as sites including eBay compete with dedicated suppliers like viagogo and Seatwave, although most offer an element of protection to buyers.

ASTA, with has more than 50 members, has called for a kitemark scheme that would reassure consumers and has been critical of Burnham not taking up the idea.

“The government’s failure to endorse a kitemarking scheme means the consumer has no way of identifying legitimate traders, leaving them open to exploitation,” said ASTA chairman Graham Burns.

Some of the biggest secondary market operators, including Seatwave, aren’t members of ASTA but still offer their own indemnity schemes.

The only action the government has taken on the secondary market is to ban the reselling of tickets for sports and entertainment events that are of national importance, the “crown jewels,” which could include big one-off charity concerts and events like Live 8, the Nelson Mandela concert in Hyde Park and Lady Diana’s Memorial Concert.

Some Web sites including eBay are already lobbying against the status these events are being afforded, arguing that consumers who have bought tickets to any event should have the right to resell them.