Entertainment & Arts

Sir Elton John: Secondary ticket prices 'disgraceful'

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Media captionElton John slams secondary ticket sites

Sir Elton John has branded secondary ticket sites "disgraceful" for selling tickets to his gigs at inflated prices.

The star urged fans not to pay over the odds, telling the BBC: "I'd rather have empty seats."

Tickets for his 2016 UK tour are being sold for up to five times face value on some sites, even though the shows have yet to sell out.

"I think it's extortionate and I think it's disgraceful," he said, joining a growing campaign against ticket resale.

Rock band Coldplay recently signed an open letter to the government calling for action over the issue.

They said fans were being "ripped off by touts" and warned of "industrial-scale abuse and insider exploitation" in the ticketing market.

Image caption Mumford and Sons: "We want fans of the band to be able to get into our shows for the right price"

Mumford and Sons raised similar concerns, highlighting professional touts that use "sophisticated" computer code to harvest tickets from official retailers, before selling them on "in bulk".

"It's our hope that secondary ticketing companies root this out to stop it happening on their sites, and that they shut it down," said the band, who urged fans to submit their views to a government review on secondary ticketing - after asking for the consultation period to be extended until 18 December.

"We want every seat in a sold out show to be filled with a fan," they added, and directed people towards sites like Scarlet Mist, Twickets and Vibe Tickets, which sell tickets at face value.

Taking a more proactive step, Adele's management vetted people who pre-registered for her 2016 tour to eliminate potential touts.

Working with ticketing website Songkick, they identified 18,000 suspect accounts and managed to keep 36,000 tickets off the secondary market, according to industry estimates.

Fans have also been warned they will need to present photo ID matching the name of the customer who originally bought the ticket to get into the shows.

It's a similar system to that employed by Glastonbury - which has effectively eradicated touts by introducing a requirement for photo ID.

Sir Elton, who has set a top ticket price of £89 for his 2016 tour, urged people not to empty their savings accounts to pay above face value on secondary sites.

"The fact they're willing to pay that [amount] is fantastic. But I'd rather they'd save their money and not come."

'Huge demand'

Ticketing site Stubhub, which is owned by eBay, said: "We understand the concerns of some artists but the reality is that for many events on our site, the bulk of sellers are fans themselves."

"The dangers of putting restrictions on music fans and how they buy tickets is that it poses huge risks in pushing them into the back alleys where there are no consumer protections at all," said the company's international manager Estanis Martin de Nicolas.

Prices for Elton John's UK tour range from £81 to £470 on Stubhub at the time of writing. The company says that more than 10% of tickets on its website this year sold below face value.

Viagogo added: "Sellers set the prices on Viagogo and for popular events such as Elton John's 2016 tour, prices can be higher because there is huge demand and limited supply.

"However, while a seller can list a ticket at any price he likes, it doesn't mean the ticket will actually sell at that price. Tickets for Elton John's UK dates actually start from under face value at £71 on our site."

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