Ed Sheeran’s promoter and two MPs have been turned away from the London offices of the ticket resale site Viagogo after demanding answers about their business practices.
At one point a security guard threatened to call police as reporters filmed the group trying to deliver a letter to a representative of the site’s parent company VGL.
The protest was joined by customers who claim they have been ripped off by the company which can add a large fee to a ticket’s face value, as well as VAT.
Kerry West from Herne Bay in Kent tried to buy four tickets to one of Sheeran’s Wembley dates in 2018.
Thinking she was on an official website, she was quoted just under £352 for the seats.
“The website is set up to be really, really panicky (with) lots of pop-ups coming up on the screen (saying) you’ve only got so many minutes left,” she told Sky News.
Image: Secondary ticketing website Viagogo
“I put all my details in, put my card details in but there was no review screen. I pressed enter and the transaction completed and it came up with a total of £1,889.
“I literally burst into tears, I felt sick. Turned to my husband and said: ‘I’ve been had’.”
The company blames a “glitch” in the system after hundreds of other customers complained, but many are yet to receive any money back and were even advised to resell the tickets on Viagogo.
The singer’s promoter, Stuart Galbraith, says tickets for his world tour can only be used by the original purchaser and has so far cancelled 10,000 tickets which have been spotted on resale sites.
“We’re advising people don’t buy tickets on Viagogo; every single ticket that they sell is not valid for our shows,” he told Sky News.
“We’ve also trawled our sales ledgers and we’ve cross referenced against known touts, identifying seven people who have bought tickets in bulk and we’re in the process of cancelling those.
“It is starting to work – we’re starting to see tickets disappear off Viagogo as we cancel them.”
The industry has long railed against the operations of some secondary ticket portals, claiming the huge mark-ups siphon money from the industry and leave genuine fans out of pocket.
There are four big players in the secondary ticket market, two of which are owned by Ticketmaster. Geneva-based Viagogo is the largest.
Image: Ed Sheeran’s promoter says 10,000 tickets have been spotted on resale sites.
According to the consumer organisation Which?, 49% of customers who use the sites think they are buying from the official seller.
On top of that, Viagogo can add as much as 34% in fees – and you do not see the full VAT-inclusive price until you click through to add payment details.
The FanFair Alliance pressure group is trying to put pressure on MPs to increase transparency in the market and enforce consumer protection legislation.
It also wants Google to stop accepting money from such sites to place their company at the top of internet searches for tickets.
The search engine banned similar ads from payday loan companies.
Parliament has already changed the law to ban so called “bots” which digital touts had used to harvest tickets as soon as they were released in order to resell at a profit.
Viagogo is yet to respond to Sky News for a comment.