Clarity demanded on concert tickets feesMP calls for greater transparency

15 May 2007

 

A crowd outside a theatre

Tickets to some West End shows go for vastly inflated prices

An MP has demanded greater transparency in the fees charged for concert tickets by agents and entertainment venues.

Labour's Ben Chapman (Wirral S) said consumers should be told what they were being charged for when they booked tickets through agents.

Venues should make it clear tickets could be bought from them direct, rather than sometimes giving the impression that a preferred agent was the only route, thereby incurring the fee.

In a short Commons debate Mr Chapman said agents were in a 'powerful position' because of the way the industry was structured.

Advance sales

He said that as a nation Britain spent over £1.5 billion a year on advance ticket sales, more than a third of which was collected through a ticket agency.

Mr Chapman added: 'In most other markets this demand would be met by greater supply. In respect of pop concerts, and to a lesser extent other top end productions, this has put not only the acts themselves but ticket agents, through exclusive deals, in a powerful position.

'We now have a situation, for example, where Kylie Minogue's comeback concert sold out in six minutes. If there were as many tickets as there were punters willing to pay upwards of £50, several Wembley stadia could be filled.

'Given the massive discrepancy between supply and demand it's paramount that we keep a careful check on those who, quite properly, seek to make commercial gain in this market.'

Booking fees

Mr Chapman said he wanted to see clearer advertising of booking and administrative fees and he also called for a standard wording for fees in the industry.

Which? spokesman Bob Tolliday said: 'These are common sense suggestions by Mr Chapman. There is not enough information at present to tell consumers where they can buy tickets from official outlets which leaves them at the prey of touts charging exorbitant prices.'

Trade and Industry Minister Margaret Hodge said the industry had already been examined by the Office of Fair Trading in 2005.

'Whilst most consumers accept that taking advantage of the benefit of using a ticket agent will involve some extra cost, many of us dislike paying those additional fees.'

She said legislation already protected consumers and action had been taken against rogue ticket agents.

The current regulations would be replaced by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in 2008, she added.

This would ban unfair marketing and selling practices. It would also require all ticket traders to provide the information consumers needed to make an 'informed purchasing decision'.