New Zealand promoters are urging Ticketmaster to follow the lead of their sister UK firm and shut down their resale site in this part of the world.

The New Zealand Promoters Association has been lobbying the Government about the problems of the secondary market and president Brent Eccles – who runs Eccles Entertainment and heads up Frontier Touring’s NZ operation – believes the closure of Ticketmaster Resale would be a step in the right direction.

Nevertheless, as in Australia, the activities of companies such as Viagogo still posed a threat and he is confident that the Government will look at further measure to curb dubious activity in the secondary market.

The issue is certainly attracting increasing media and public attention. The TVNZ consumer watchdog show Fair Go has run a number of items about the fans who have lost out by buying tickets through Viagogo, while the Commerce Commission is currently investigating more than 300 complaints about the company. The NZ competition and consumer agency is taking legal advice on whether it can take legal action against the Swiss-based Viagogo.

Manolo Echave, who represents Chugg Entertainment in New Zealand, is sceptical whether local laws can be enforced on a company which operates outside of New Zealand. He points out that the Major Events Management Act, which prevents people from on-selling tickets for more than the original price for events such as last year’s Lions’ rugby tour, hasn’t stopped people from selling tickets at inflated prices on platforms like Viagogo.

“They didn’t actually have a mechanism to stop it,” Echave says. “The tickets were actually genuine tickets, but they were being sold on these overseas sites. So even though the legislation was in place, the ticketing mechanism was based overseas so they couldn’t touch them.”

In the UK, Ticketmaster intends replacing its resale site with a ticket exchange, where fans would be able to sell unwanted tickets at face value or below. Layton Lillas, a director of the Showcase Entertainment Group, says if a similar platform was launched here, it would help reduce some of problems in the secondary market. However, he maintains that in the past, people who had a genuine reason for a refund, would usually be able to get one through a promoter.

“I can count on one hand the number of time we have refused to give a refund for a ticket,” he says. “If people have got a legitimate reason, we will always refund, so therefore the whole reason for these resale platforms is nothing more than money-making.”

Layton Lillas, a director of the Showcase Entertainment Group
Layton Lillas, a director of the Showcase Entertainment Group

Along with his fellow promoters, Lillas believes there needs to be tighter controls on how tickets come to be made available on resale sites. He cites a case of a show he had promoted where a large quantity of tickets appeared on a resale site, even though he had only sold a much smaller number of tickets at the time.

Echave says there is no easy quick fix for the problems in the secondary market, but he believes there are number of different legal options that could be pursued to curb the worst excesses. And all three agreed that something had to be done because it is the fans that suffer in the end.

“I just don’t see why resale sites should be allowed to exist – they have no skin in the deal at all,” adds Eccles. “It is horrible seeing what happens to punters who have bought on Viagogo and the tickets don’t turn up, or where they have paid big money and can’t get into the venue.”