U.K. Promoters Launch Safe Box Office

Despite whatever U.K. sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe is planning for the government’s latest investigation into secondary ticketing, British concert promoters have seized the initiative by launching their own box office.

The Concert Promoters Association (CPA) set up OfficialBoxOffice.com “in response to the lack of imminent decisive government action on ticket touts,” according to Feb. 22 statement.

The CPA says the site will enable music fans to purchase tickets confidently if they have been unable to purchase them through primary outlets.

It’s a secondary outlet run by See Tickets. Every ticket available on the site is listed by location to allow it to be verified as a genuine ticket.

Buyers will then know exactly what they’re getting for their money, as listing full ticket details will be required. This is unique in the secondary market.

“We’re launching a site that will have the most robust system possible to minimise the chance of fans buying non-existent or misrepresented tickets,” said CPA spokesman Rob Ballantine. “The CPA has campaigned on behalf of music fans to try and get the government to outlaw ticket touting. The government has refused to do this, so the secondary market is here to stay.

“We are powerless to police this as it is rife with fraud and week after week fans are being ripped off by purchasing fraudulent tickets,” he continued. “We can’t fix the problem – the government can and we hope the consultation launched this week will see them change their stance on touting.

“What we have done to protect fans is set up a transaction site to be operated ‘at cost’ rather than for profit,” he said.
The sellers are charged no commission and receive 100 percent of the price they set the ticket at. Therefore, if the ticket is genuine, there is no reason for them to sell it on any other site.

Ballantine said it’s not a CPA “vanity project” or an effort to exploit the secondary market. He said the promoters’ association is highlighting the fact that fans need to be very suspicious of any secondary site other than OfficialBoxOffice.com because “it makes no sense for a tout to use any other site unless they have something to hide.”

Ballantine said the CPA welcomes the government’s new consultation and hopes it’s “a genuine opportunity to list concert tickets alongside Olympic tickets as items that cannot be resold for profit.”

“We hope this is not a window dressing that ends with an ineffectual listing of ‘crown jewel’ events that can’t be touted leaving 95 percent of concerts and events open to exploitation by touts,” he said.

In January 2008, Ballantine and the CPA gave up a three-year battle to persuade the government to outlaw the secondary market. They were left disillusioned by the suspicion that, despite the time taken over the consultation, it had never been on the government’s agenda to legislate against touts.

“Welcome to the Wild West,” he said at the time, prefiguring the ticketing scandals that shook the live music industry last summer.

If U.K. government policy changes and legislation outlaws touts and closes the secondary market, there would be no further need for OfficialBoxOffice.com.

The CPA would then close the site in its current format and change its function so it would run as a fan-to-fan exchange site with tickets passed at face value.