Updated: May 17, 2019
As it stands, Primary Ticket Outlets control the release of tickets to most high profile music and sports events in the UK e.g. Ticketmaster.
When they release tickets for an event, this can be up to a year ahead of the performance or game. In addition the window to purchase these tickets is often incredibly narrow. They tend to go live at 9am on a working day, requiring you the customer to be online and free for up to an hour before in a virtual waiting room, and an hour after whilst you get through the queue. Even then you have no guarantee you get a ticket.
There are numerous problems with this for someone like me, the customer. Firstly, I can’t know for sure what I will be doing that far in advance, my work might take me abroad, I may have a family emergency, I may be unwell, I may have something more pressing come up. Yet unless I buy during the narrow window and commit then and there, my chance is often lost.
In addition, as someone who works full time, I’m often not able to wait in online queues to try and get tickets. Even worse, wait for hours online only to find they are sold out or the only tickets left are the most expensive or perhaps ones with a blocked view.
This system numerous times in the past has meant I have missed out on the performance of an artist, or a sports team much to my disappointment. For example in October 2018 I wanted desperately to get two tickets for Mumford & Sons Tour at the 02 Arena - there was only one London date.
However, I was in a meeting when the tickets were released and thus lost my chance to go. This is by no means the first time, back in June 2017 Adele was scheduled to perform the last few shows of her ‘Hello’ Tour.
It was coming up to her 123rd show and rumoured to be her last ever. Adele announced the Western European headlining dates on 26 November 2015, and tickets for this went on sale on the 4th of December 2015. Tickets sold out instantaneously and at one point I was in a queue with well over 20,000 customers. Despite waiting in that queue I also had no guarantee that I would still be able to go to a concert that was in fact in nearly two years time.
Indeed some artists may offer ‘pre-sale’ opportunities, but what if I can’t afford to buy the album that week, or I don’t know about the pre-sale, or so many people do that it defeats the points? This narrows my chances of getting a ticket even more and can often mean only those with a certain amount of disposable income can get hold of them.
Another instance of this was back in 2015. It took me and my brother the best part of 10 years to get tickets to a Coldplay concert, and finally on the 27th of November I managed to get two tickets (having waited in a queue and also bought the album early to secure entry into pre-sale.) This was great, except it was 7 months before the tour date and having originally seen no problem with going June 16th, as we got closer it turned out my brother had to leave the UK, he was then stuck with a ticket costing £80 that he could no longer use. Being a student at the time this was not an insignificant amount of money.
The saving grace was I was able to take a friend who had last minute moved back to the UK, there’s no way he could’ve gone had I not bought that ticket 7 months previously and my brother sadly had to bow out, it also meant my brother was refunded.
I’m certainly not the only one affected by this problem. A lot of my friends who are big sports fans, especially Rugby fans, often have trouble getting tickets to big games. Unless you’re part of a club or have debentures it’s hard to get hold of initial releases for big international games. Often they give up and have to watch from a bar or at home. It’s happened recently with a few friends hoping to go to Japan for the 2019 world cup, despite signing up, paying a deposit for the ballot etc, there was no luck. It was such hard work, and there’s little chance they’ll be able to get any nearer the time now.
These Primary Ticket Outlets are making it increasingly difficult for people who have a genuine passion for music or sport to go to events that mean so much to them. As consumers we must be given more choice when it comes to purchasing tickets. I shouldn’t have to decide months, even years in advance and I also should have more than a 30 minute window where I can realistically purchase tickets that aren’t either extortionate or appalling seats, more often than not after queuing online for an hour or more.
So using my experience as a media consultant in the environmental sector I decided to launch UFT.