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Sheeran manager condemns ‘absurd’ resale prices

“We’d rather put on a million more shows for a lower price”: Ed Sheeran’s manager testifies against touts who sold £7,000 tickets to charity gig

By Anna Grace on 06 Dec 2019

Venues open up but doors remain closed

The Ed Sheeran charity concert took place at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017

image © © User:Colin /Wikimedia Commons /CC BY-SA-4.0

Ed Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Camp, has testified in court against touts selling tickets for a charity concert for almost 1,000 times above face value.

Speaking at Leeds crown court in the UK, Camp told the jury that he had decided to take action against resellers after spotting tickets for a £75-ticket charity show flogged for £7,000 on secondary ticketing site Viagogo.

No artist fee had been charged for the show, which took place at London’s Royal Albert Hall in March 2017, in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

“I bet none was donated to charity,” Sheeran’s manager told the jury. “This is absurd. We just really wanted to make sure we weren’t in that situation again.”

The defendants in the trial – Peter Hunter (trading name Ticket Wiz) and David Smith (BZZ) – reportedly spent over £4 million from June 2015 to December 2017 buying tickets on primary sites using automated ticket-buying software, or bots. The pair then sold the tickets through secondary platforms for a total of £10.8m. Both men deny the charges.

Following the incident, Camp implemented a no-resale policy for tickets to all stadium dates of Sheeran’s record-breaking ÷ (Divide) world tour, the highest grossing in history.

Ticket sales were limited to a small number of primary sellers, with only resales through dedicated fan-to-fan platforms permitted. Fans were informed that tickets bought through secondary platforms would not be valid and told to bring the credit or debit card used to purchase the tickets to guarantee entry.

“Our theory is that we want everybody to be able to come to a show. We’d rather put on a million more shows for a lower price,” explained Camp.

“Our theory is that we want everybody to be able to come to a show”

“I’d rather keep people happy and people saying ‘you know what, we’ll do that again some time’.”

The manager stated that Viagogo, which last month made headlines for its US$4bn purchase of fellow secondary ticketer StubHub and its reappearance on Google advertising, “ignored” the policy.

However, a Viagogo spokesperson claims the letter “wasn’t ignored”. Rather, says the spokesperson, “we disagreed with his [Camp’s] approach.”

“Our position is, and always has been, that it is unfair to restrict fans’ access to an event just because of where or how they purchased their ticket,” continues the spokesperson. “We now list restrictions clearly at the top of the web page in line with those of the venue and our customers are always protected by our ticket guarantee. However, we fundamentally believe the consumer should be allowed to sell on tickets they either no longer want or can’t use, as part of a competitive market.”

The scheme received criticism from some fans who claimed the regulations made it impossible to shift unwanted tickets.

At the time, a spokesperson from Kilimanjaro Live, who co-promoted Sheeran’s UK stadium dates, said,“Whilst we understand the frustration of someone who is unable to resell and wants to drop the price accordingly to give themselves a better chance of recouping some of their money, unfortunately this throws up more questions than answers.

“From the outset we have tried to find a way to be fair to fans, to facilitate the ethical resale of tickets and to leave as many fans as happy as possible whilst preventing the daily horror stories of them being ripped off by ticket touts profiting from the panic to get a ticket to see Ed. We have undoubtedly had a huge impact here.”

Photo: © User:Colin /Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA-4.0


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