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Swiss promoters to “fight secondary market abuse”

The SMPA has called for the criminalisation of above-face-value ticket resale in Switzerland and urged its members to do more to combat touting

By Jon Chapple on 16 May 2016

Paléo Festival Nyon, Switzerland

SMPA member Paléo Festival operates its own ticket-swap service for fans unable to attend

image © Martin Abegglen

The Swiss Music Promoters’ Association (SMPA) has outlined its case for regulation of the country’s secondary ticketing market, arguing that the system as it stands is characterised by “excessive prices, forgeries, irritation and disappointment” and offers “no protection” to consumers.

While there are currently no restrictions on reselling tickets in Switzerland – the Federal Council, which governs the central European state, has previously stated that to “restrict the resale of legally acquired property would violate the principles of free competition, economic freedom and the guarantee of ownership” – SMPA says it “nevertheless intends to fight secondary market abuse”.

Its recommendations include either criminalising resale above face value (a view shared by Swiss national councillor Olivier Feller and Mumford & Sons manager Adam Tudhope in the UK) or making mandatory resale licences for secondary sellers.

“By buying your tickets from touts, you encourage the secondary market and profiteering at your expense”

Many anti-touting campaigners advocate personalised tickets, irretrievably bound to the buyer and requring their photo ID to enter the concert or festival, as a solution to secondary-market price gouging. However, SMPA – which represents 35 Swiss concert promoters and festivals – says such customised tickets aren’t “ideal”, citing a cost that would be “too high for all concerned”. “The extra cost would be added to the price of tickets,” explains CEO Stefan Breitenmoser. “For consumers this system would be expensive and inconvenient.”

It instead urges its members to consider alternatives such as a restriction on the number of tickets that can be sold to each person, limited distribution channels and the development of not-for-profit ticket swap sites, such as those pioneered by OpenAir St Gallen and Paléo Festival Nyon.

SMPA also lists a number of resale sites it believes consumers should avoid, including Alltickets, Viagogo, Onlineticketsshop, Worldticketshop, Vienna Ticketoffice, Ticketbande, eBay and Ricardo, which it says are rife with “speculation”. “By buying your tickets on these platforms or from touts, you encourage the secondary market and profiteering at your expense,” says Breitenmoser.

Belgium’s government earlier this month announced that Topticketshop, along with other resale sites Rang1Tickets.nl and Tickets België, are to be blocked by Belgian ISPs.