It’s been a bad year for purchasing concert tickets; half a million Aussies have been burnt by ticketing frauds and online scammers in the last 12 months.

At least that’s according to a report from Galaxy Research that was commissioned by ticketing site Viagogo as it launches in Australia this month, adding the country as its 50th territory in its global expansion.

The new research figures claim that 500,000 people have been scammed when purchasing tickets on the web, and in particular from third-party sellers on auction website eBay and Gumtree, either turning up to concerts and events without knowledge that they’d purchased an invalid pass or never receiving tickets they’d paid money for, as The Music Network reports.

The Galaxy Research report also shows that of those surveyed, 88% were most concerned about guaranteeing security and authenticity of tickets purchased online, something that Viagogo CEO Eric Baker says his online ticketing platform will be able to provide.

“We’re the world’s largest ticket marketplace… we let people buy and sell tickets safely and securely,” Mr Baker told Tone Deaf in a soon-to-be published interview; “we guarantee that if you’re a consumer or a fan and you want to buy tickets to show that you’re going to get the tickets on time, they’re going to be the tickets as advertised, and they will be authentic.”

That of course often comes at an increased price, with Baker estimating that ticket prices on Viagogo “tend to be within about 15% – 20% of face value, so they might be higher and in some cases lower… but we’re serving the fan, at the end of the day that is who we work for.” Prices on Viagogo “tend to be within about 15% – 20% of face value, so they might be higher and in some cases lower… but we’re serving the fan, at the end of the day that is who we work for.”

As part of their Australian launch, Viagogo has struck potential partnerships with Collingwood and Richmond football clubs and is in discussions with representatives of the music industry, with a goal to providing a fan-to-fan secondary ticket market that it believes is not being catered to efficiently by the lagging services of Ticketmaster and Ticketek, while acting as a more secure option to the shadier underbelly of the likes of eBay and Gumtree, “which just don’t work very well for tickets,” says Baker.

“They’re very good for tables or selling bikes or these types of things but if it’s a time sensitive item like a ticket, you’re buying tickets to go see a Bruce Springsteen [for example] you have to get them on time because if it turns out they don’t work out – you might miss that opportunity forever.”

The Springsteen example is timely given the backlash that sprung up after tickets for The Boss’ forthcoming Australian tour after tickets began appearing online at exorbitant prices; ranging rom $400 from sellers on Gumtree, up to $600 on eBay, and nearly $800 on Viagogo itself. The spike in online resales also prompted Ticketek and Ticketmaster to admit that ticketing bots had indeed been used to snaffle up a large proportion of ticket sales.

The ticketing upset was enough for promoters Frontier Touring to issue an official statement damning “unscrupulous scalpers”, before Frontier boss Michael Gudinski himself warned fans over being “duped” by online scammers before more dates were added to meet demand the Bruce Springsteen Australian Tour.

Despite being lumped in with the negative views of ticket scalping, Viagogo’s CEO was keen to distance their online platform from providing a haven for illegitimate ticket exchanges, pointing towards the platform’s consumer tracking and security measures stopping scammers from ‘abusing’ their system; “If you were a scam artist and you had fraudulent tickets to sell… you wouldn’t do it over an audit-able, trackable, monitor-able system like Viagogo. You would probably do it on a street corner or on eBay.”

Mr Baker also emphasises that Viagogo wouldn’t have found such global success if it wasn’t supplying a strong consumer demand. “If fans and consumers don’t like using our service, we’d be out of business,” declares Baker.“Our view is that there will be considerable unintended consequences if the Government’s proposal is implemented as it stands now…”

Viagogo’s figure of 500,000 Aussie ticket scams arrives as NSW ministers met with ticketing agent Christoph Homann, Ticketmaster’s Managing Director of International Resale, to discuss plans for proposed legislation to stem scalpers profiteering off of the resale of tickets while ensuring greater purchase security for punters against fraudulent conduct, as The Music Network reports.

“Our view is that there will be considerable unintended consequences if the Government’s proposal is implemented as it stands now,” remarks Mr Homann, believing that a ‘pan Australian’ method is needed in conjunction with other major ticketing agents (such as Ticketek, Moshtix, Oztix et al.) in assisting the NSW Government in implementing their changes to the ticket marketplace.

“The best way to protect fans, stop scalpers and curb the growth of unscrupulous resale sites is for the ticketing industry to take the lead and implement industry wide self-regulation measures,” adds the Ticketmaster executive.

The US-based Ticketmaster recently got involved in the scalping business itself recently with the launch of its TM+ service, which combines resale tickets and new sales under the one online platform, the distinct difference being that the artist, venue – and most pointedly Ticketmaster – get a cut of the profits from the resale ticket, where usually they’d receiving nothing if a punter decides to sell on their ticket independently online.

Ticketmaster is aiming to roll out a similar ticket resale market in Australia by early 2014, that will offer a ‘money back guarantee’ as well as anti-fraud measures with greater consumer transparency.

A service that Viagogo’s Eric Baker believes they’ve already been offering for a lot longer, and a lot better, “[primary ticket markets] have tried to roll out their own secondary ticket product… but it has been difficult for them to do,” says Mr Baker. “We accept and welcome competition… [but] the service that will win is the service that best services the fan and so far in the markets we’ve been in we’ve been able to do that and we hope to continue that momentum in Australia.”

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