Ticket problems threaten summer concerts

Big-name shows likely target for fraud, promoter says

LONDON -- Summer stadium and arena shows by U2, Madonna, Oasis and Take That are likely to be targeted by fraudulent ticket operations, according to one leading U.K. promoter.

Rob Ballantine, director of Manchester-based SJM Concerts, said he is expecting huge problems in the summer, with fans on the losing end. In addition to the problems of scalping, where ticket touts make huge profits outside venues and online via the secondary market, Ballantine is concerned about scams where tickets are being offered for sale that sellers don't actually possess. Companies often have unofficial Web sites incorporating the act's name.

Last summer, there was a surge in complaints to consumer protection bodies about festival and concert tickets that were purchased but did not turn up.

One ticket agency, Xclusive Tickets, went into liquidation in August; about 2,600 customers did not receive tickets they had bought for the Reading, Leeds and V festivals in England. Another company, SOS Master Tickets, failed to supply tickets for the festivals and George Michael tour and then was not able to be contacted, prompting an investigation by trading standards officers in London.

"It's terrible because these are kids, the next generation of fans, that are so enthusiastic about seeing these acts that they will send their money to anybody who seems to be promising them a ticket they can't find elsewhere," Ballantine said. "Take That, Oasis, Madonna, U2 -- all the big ones this summer, they're all going to have huge problems."

He said there were problems every night on the recent Killers arena tour, promoted by SJM.

"People are so desperate to see the artists they want to see, and they get promises of front-row seats or a golden ticket you can't buy anywhere else," he said. "They just hand over their details."
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