One tent, a pair of wellies…oh and a ticket please?

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Wellies and sunglasses. It isn’t often you would think that these two opposing items of clothing would go together. However there is one season of the year where this seems appropriate and that is the time that almost every weekend of the summer is dedicated to; festival season.

More importantly though, with ‘festival fashion’ aside, getting your hands on to that vital passport into the main arena can be difficult. With festival tickets selling out within hours of going on sale it is no wonder that there are many disappointed fans, and the touting industry is commonly to blame.

However, it was only last weekend where I traipsed up and down the road outside the Isle of Wight Festival site in Newport hoping to secure myself a ticket from one such dreaded tout. Sunday morning I managed to purchase a ticket for £35 from a seller keen to shift their ticket as the festival was drawing to a close. A good price though I thought; Paul MacCartney in concert would cost almost double that. My smugness was briefly dented though when chatting to one festival goer who claimed that “if you go down to the pier, people are leaving the festival early and I got my ticket for £7” which I think seems almost stealing for a whole day of spectacular acts. My disappointment at paying a higher price was instantly forgotten however when I remembered I would be seeing one of The Beatles!

Yet these tickets, supposedly being sold for £7, were undoubtedly being snapped up by touts who would later hover around the festival boundaries selling them at a significantly marked-up price. So sadly I was one of these desperate ticket hunters who had succumbed to the demand that comes with festivals and music events and fuels the touting industry. For just one day at the festival it was well worth the money but is it fair?

With people willing to pay more than double the price for a weekend at a festival this has allowed touting to grow into a huge business. G4S, a secure solutions company in the UK, reported that a ticket tout index indicates that:

“Touts selling tickets through online auction sites are typically earning 59% profit on every ticket sold.”

Reading and Leeds Festival are one of the quickest of the festivals to sell out -with websites freezing and tickets disappearing in a matter of hours. And, despite limits on numbers of tickets each credit card can buy, there seems little that can be done to prevent touts from buying large numbers of tickets they have no intention of going to a festival with.

The next festival to take place amongst a long list of others is Glastonbury, kicking off Wednesday 23rd June, which has the most effective method of deterring touts; whereby if you wish to buy a ticket you must register with a photograph in advance. Not wanting to miss out, I even found myself registering for this year’s ‘Glato’. However when the time came to buy a ticket I found my friends had not done the same and, being limited to buying only the one ticket, I was forced to pass up my opportunity to go. Yet despite being more restricting, this method of ticket sales currently seems to be the only method of allowing everyone a fair chance at purchasing a ticket as the demand for tickets will never cease to the extent that touts are unable to make money.

So with tickets sold out, and no on-line Glastonbury ticket touts with significantly marked-up prices, I will just have to check out the spectacular BBC coverage on my TV and pretend to be one of the 150,000 people watching headliners: ‘Gorillaz’, ‘Muse’ and ‘Stevie Wonder’.

But I am left thinking is it not the fault of the public who are willing to pay such high prices that this problem has arisen. The ‘must have it now’ attitude of our society means that they cannot wait for another year, another festival, but must pay the highest price and go tomorrow; and only if this demand ever disappears so too will the touts.

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