NICK Smith MP has accused the Government of missing their last chance to protect the Rugby World Cup from the predatory ticket touts.
With tickets for the RWC already being advertised on secondary ticket sites for £1,500 -; despite the organiser’s capped price structure -; a cross-party group urged the Government to reconsider regulation on the resale of tickets.
But despite some Conservatives backing the plans, those pleas have fallen on deaf ears -; with the Minister for Sport and Tourism claiming any regulation would just result in companies hitting consumers with higher charges.
The Blaenau Gwent MP was part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse that produced a report slamming the current state of the secondary ticket industry and calling for full transparency on the ticket itself and the seller.
Mr Smith joined fellow members Sharon Hodgson and Mike Weatherley in a joint letter to the Department calling once more for measures that would allow fans to see what seat their ticket would secure and a guarantee the ticket exists or evidence it has been already been secured by the seller.
In a measure mirroring the eBay system, they also called for seller information to be available so “power sellers” could be identified, the source of the ticket would be clear and the reliability of the seller would be available.
But Helen Grant, Minister of Sport and Tourism, responded: “The more rigid the legislation is on how data is provided, and the more information and more history on complaint validity a website needs to provide, the higher its costs.
“I would be concerned that any additional costs would be passed to consumers by the secondary marketplaces, who already offer significant protection to consumers who buy a fraudulent ticket. I am also concerned that such a policy would be to the detriment of genuine fans trying to resell an unwanted ticket.
“The Government supports transparency in the secondary market, but at this stage I am not convinced that there is a significant enough detriment to consumers to warrant legislative action.”
Speaking after the response, Mr Smith said the Government had scuppered the hopes of ordinary fans who will be unable to obtain a ticket on September 12 in the first rush.
“The Government continue to claim that the system is transparent, when instead the internet spivs who mass sell tickets they’ve scooped up by any means necessary are being protected from scrutiny”, he said.
“They are hiding behind the fact they are protecting fans from further charges when the eye watering mark ups from secondary sites remain unchallenged.
“This gives the green light to the touts to continue to rip off fans. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has already given them their blessing by previously calling touts “entrepreneurs” that were filling a gap in the market -; a gap they themselves create with botnet programmes, phone banks and insider contacts helping them jump the queue and pick up tickets by the bucketload.”