Revealed: The worst rip-off prices being charged online for gigs in Sheffield

Tickets to popular concerts in Sheffield are being sold on secondary ticketing sites for more than four times their face value, a investigation by The Star has found.

Monday, 8th January 2018, 4:41 pm
Updated Monday, 8th January 2018, 4:50 pm
Tickets for the League of Gentlemen at Sheffield City Hall are in high demand online.

It comes despite the Government promising to ban ticket touts using specialised software to bulk buy tickets for popular shows and then immediately list them on resale website at hugely-inflated prices.

Performers have also been attempting to fight back against their fans being ripped off with new security measures such as ‘paperless tickets’.

Tickets for the League of Gentlemen at Sheffield City Hall are in high demand online.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But research by the Star demonstrates just how commonplace inflated prices for popular shows are - with some tickets for forthcoming shows in Sheffield being sold for over 300 per cent more than the original value.

Viagogo, one of the leading resale sites, charges both buyers and sellers a “service fee” which varies by event and in the case of those buying tickets is only displayed once they get to the check out stage of purchasing.

The full price can only be viewed after providing the site with personal details, while warnings repeatedly flash up the tickets may be lost to other bidders if not purchased within minutes.

Anyone wanting to see comedians The League of Gentlemen at Sheffield City Hall, can purchase tickets through Viagogo from £79 to £122 - far above the face-value price of £39.20.

Booking fees are only shown on Viagogo after personal details have been entered.

But a pair of League of Gentlemen tickets advertised for sale at £122 each could only actually be brought for £166 each once £2 of handling fees and £42 of ‘VAT and booking fees’ were added; the latter charge being more than the original face value of the ticket.

The full price can only be viewed after providing the site with personal details, while warnings repeatedly flash up the tickets may be lost to other bidders if not purchased within minutes.

And despite face-value tickets still being available to watch Cirque de Soleil at Sheffield Arena for between £45.80 to £68.20 from official outlets, they were being offered on Viagogo for £182 each.

When Black Sabbath announced a seven-date UK tour in 2017, 11,695 tickets were listed for re-sale within minutes of the general sale going live - close to the entire capacity of an additional gig.

Tickets for Cirque de Soleil are being offered at high prices - despite face value tickets still being available.

The unfortunate situation is occurring despite the best efforts of many people in the entertainment industries. In July 2016, managers of artists including Arctic Monkeys, One Direction and Iron Maiden set up a pressure group called FanFair Alliance calling for a crackdown on such websites. The organisation estimates that secondary ticketing in the UK - based on resales from four platforms; Viagogo, StubHub, GetMeIn and Seatwave - is worth more than £1bn a year.

And big acts like Iron Maiden are increasingly adopting paperless ticketing, in which concertgoers present photographic ID and their debit or credit cards at the doors of a venue in a bid to cut down on unscrupulous reselling.

But the situation is complicated by the ownership of some of the secondary ticketing sites. Live Nation, which owns official ticketing outlet Ticketmaster, was praised last year for its work with Iron Maiden on preventing ticket reselling for the band’s Book of Souls tour which visited Sheffield; a policy calculated to have saved the rock band’s fans a combined £1m on marked-up prices.

But Live Nation also owns two of the biggest secondary ticketing websites, Seatwave and GetMeIn. Research by the Star shows that when you search for tickets to see celebrity scientist Professor Brian Cox at the First Direct Arena in Leeds next month by Googling ‘Brian Cox Leeds’, a sponsored advert for GetMeIn appears in the search results ahead of Ticketmaster, with a Viagogo advert also above the official site. GetMeIn, whose advert describes itself as a ‘Ticketmaster Marketplace’, is offering seats to the show for £165.94 each - despite face value tickets still being available on Ticketmaster for £51.60.

Iron Maiden are among the acts trying to stop touts through the use of paperless tickets.

Adam Webb, campaign manager from the FanFair Alliance, says situations like that may be leading to people buying more expensive tickets than they need to.

One way the Government is moving to act is by introducing new legislation to ban ticket touts from using automated software which allows them to dodge security measures and snap up more tickets than allowed by event organisers. A new criminal offence will mean those who break the law in this way could face unlimited fines.

Webb says: “The Government’s announcement is genuinely a welcome step forward. If properly enforced, these new laws should act as a deterrent to those who harvest tickets with specialised software and rip off British audiences. However, it’s important that these actions are not viewed in isolation. Dedicated touts have other means of accessing tickets. For instance, some will use multiple credit cards or multiple identities. These also need to be tackled. Not all touts are ‘bot’ users.

“On a more positive note, the UK’s ticket resale market is currently under growing scrutiny from the Competition & Markets Authority, National Trading Standards and the Advertising Standards Authority.

“If these agencies can also deliver decisive actions, then FanFair Alliance is optimistic that 2018 could be a watershed year in fixing what has become a national embarrassment.”

Viagogo 'doesn't set ticket prices'

Tickets for the League of Gentlemen at Sheffield City Hall are in high demand online.

Viagogo says it does not set ticket prices charged on its website.

A spokesman said: “Viagogo is a marketplace and doesn’t buy or sell tickets. Viagogo provides a platform for third party sellers to sell tickets to event goers. Viagogo does not set ticket prices, sellers set their own prices, which may be above or below the original face value.

“Where demand is high and tickets are limited, prices increase.”

The company said it had no further comment when asked about whether it considers the way in which prices are displayed on its website to be adequate and how it justifies booking fees that are higher than the cost of face value tickets in some cases.

Live Nation did not respond to a request for comment.

Booking fees are only shown on Viagogo after personal details have been entered.
Tickets for Cirque de Soleil are being offered at high prices - despite face value tickets still being available.
Iron Maiden are among the acts trying to stop touts through the use of paperless tickets.