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Ticket reselling firm says that a ban on touts would just lead to more black market trade

Ticket resellers have claimed that introducing a new law won’t do anything.

Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

A PROPOSED LAW banning the sale of concert/sports tickets above their face value or capping prices won’t work in Ireland, according a major ticket reselling website.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, StubHub’s global head of public affairs, Aimee Campbell, said there will always be people selling tickets at a higher than face value no matter what legislation is brought into place and that targeting the initial distribution of tickets would create a better and fairer environment for those wanting to buy.

StubHub makes 15% commission on the final price for any ticket so it comes as no surprise that it does not wish for price caps to be introduced on ticket resales – something which has been put forward by members of the Oireachtas.

Recent checks on its website shows how tickets for Ireland’s game against England at Twickenham this weekend can cost up to €5,100. The higher the price, the more commission StubHub makes on the transaction. Users can put tickets up for sale and choose how much they want to sell them for

When asked if she thought this unscrupulous pricing was fair on Irish or English fans wanting to attend the game, Campbell said: “This is an insanely exceptional circumstance. It’s Ireland against England on St Patrick’s Day. But what I would say is that you see that ticket there still because nobody will pay for it. We want the market to correct itself. We feel that if nobody is willing to pay for it then the seller will be forced to drop that price.”

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock has been a vocal critic of reselling websites. Ticket touting has become an increasingly prevalent problem in Ireland, with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commissioner undertaking an investigation on the matter. Rock introduced a Private Member’s Bill to the Dáil alongside Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly back in 2016 which would see touting become illegal.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Rock said: “I always wonder what these companies have to lose  from a touting law being implemented. They’ve put an awful lot of effort into talking one down. Could it be that it puts their sky-high commission at risk?

“The reality is that companies like Viagogo and StubHub do incredibly well for themselves at the expense of real fans, while currently getting no real scrutiny. We need to bring real transparency and accountability to these markets and I intend to do that.”

Rock himself has said that he was disappointed with how slowly his Bill is moving through the Oireachtas. He said that he is still committed to ensuring it passes and that tighter regulation will be enforced.

Aimee Campbell thinks otherwise.

90422210_90422210 Prices for football matches have also seen considerable price hikes. Source: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

She argues that no matter what you do, touting will always exist in one form of another. She also argued what her firm does is guarantees that the person actually gets a ticket or does not lose their money if it is cancelled.

The proposals to cap prices will create more of a problem than the problem it is trying to solve. If you cap markets, it drives trade elsewhere. If people are willing to pay a higher price, they will find somewhere to purchase it – it’s the same with those selling. If supply is too low, price will always go up.

What’s the solution?

Instead of legislation which would ban the resale of tickets at a higher price, StubHub said Ireland should introduce legislation similar to that which was enacted in the UK last year. This law outlawed the misuse of so-called bots which allow touts to purchase hundreds of tickets in the fraction of the time it would usually take.

In the UK, the misuse of bots is currently illegal but actually buying one is not – and this is an aspect of law which Ireland could benefit from, according to Campbell. Buying one of the bots costs around €500.

Campbell added: “We’ve always been against them. For us it makes the most sense this way as it increases the number of tickets that can be bought by genuine buyers.

“But once again, a law is only good if it is being enforced. Without that it has no point.”

Rock says he took on the touts to highlight the scale of touting.

“Fundamentally I disagree with ticket touting. It stops fans like you and me from going to matches and concerts at the price we should be going to them for.

“The IRFU disagree with touts, the GAA disagree with touting, the FAI disagree with touting, but the law doesn’t disagree with touting.

“That’s why I’ve proposed a Bill to change the law and make sure that above cost ticket selling will no longer take place. The law has passed the first stage in the Dáil but it still has a bit further to go.”

Read: A TD went undercover to tackle touts charging €600 for Ireland v England tickets >

Read: ‘A truly dysfunctional system’: Touts selling World Cup seats for Ireland V Denmark for €700 >

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