Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Led Zeppelin scalpers are only defrauding buyers

A search on eBay using the terms Led Zeppelin and O2 would at first appear to nullify the efforts by Harvey Goldsmith to prevent "touts," or scalpers, from profiting from the resale of tickets to the biggest reunion concert of the century.

Ultimately, anybody using eBay to get themselves tickets to the Ahmet Erteg√ľn tribute at the O2 arena on Nov. 26 will find out just who is being defrauded: the buyers. And who they have made rich, at least for the time being: the profiteering scalpers.

These scalpers have seemingly found a loophole through which they can make money regardless. It is one that appears not to be a violation of eBay's policy against the unauthorized sale of event tickets. It's not the tickets they're selling; it's simply a passcode that allows access to purchase on Ticketmaster's U.K. site up to two tickets to the event.

Think about the possibilities: If you have a legitimate passcode, you can go to eBay and sell and resell it, infinitely, as long as people keep buying the same passcode. Will it work for everybody? No, it will not work only for the first person to use the passcode; subsequent attempts to reuse the passcode will result in failure.

Won't the people who paid all that money to obtain your passcode feel cheated? Yes, they will, but smart sellers will have included in the terms of the sale an adequate disclaimer such as "Tickets are NOT included in this auction." The seller in one particular auction was particularly clear on this point, emphasizing:

You are bidding on a PASSWORD to see Led Zeppelin (Ahmet Ertegun Tribute) in London at the O2 Arena on November 26. Password is valid for purchase of 2 tickets.


Not that I'm advising anybody to defraud the public. Just the opposite, in fact!

These sellers may be exploiting a loophole in eBay's system. However, does that mean the process is still permissible? Whether this practice is illegal under any territory's laws remains to be seen, but it does seem an awful lot like fraud. Even if illegal, whether it would be prosecuted by any government is a whole separate matter. Investigations would have to transpire quickly in order to find out who is selling the passcodes; these auctions are around for only 24 hours, and the clock is ticking. Some even use the "Buy It Now" feature, allowing the sale to take place immediately, ending the auction. Besides, the 72-hour window under which this first round of tickets must be purchased is also closing.

All legal arguments aside, will the resale of these passcodes result in actual tickets being given to people who purchased them but who did not receive a passcode e-mailed to them by the promoters as part of the pre-registration process? No.

This is an important point that the buyers in such auctions are missing. Let me be clear: You and your guest will not be given tickets you have already purchased when you arrive at the concert venue in London if the name of the purchaser does not match the name of the recipient for that passcode.

The author of this blog has posted today a claim that this is what Harvey Goldsmith's office says it is going to do. Now that same claim is being reported in the press: See New Musical Express.

Those who purchase passcodes are allowing people to profit from illegitimate and unauthorized sales. These purchasers will also end up only hurting themselves by wasting money buying passcodes that will yield them only a mistaken claim to tickets they will never end up possessing. Those who sell, or claim to sell, passcodes associated with the Led Zeppelin reunion concert are anathema.

I can only hope that, from here on out, the words in the e-mail notifications --

The original conditions of sale will be enforced. These tickets are non-transferable and any resale will void the transaction without refund. ...

We are doing our best to keep the tickets for this event out of the hands of secondary ticket sellers and in the hands of the fans so please help us by adhering to the above.

-- are taken more seriously.


  1. Promoter Harvey Goldsmith has issued a press release on the sale of passcodes. From http://www.harveygoldsmith.com/news-and-press-release-item.php?item=19

    "The random ticket selection has taken place and successful applicants have been notified that they can now purchase their tickets.
    "Each ticket holder has an individual pass code that has been issued by Ticket Master, that pass code and the name of the applicant are married together.
    "Consequently if the pass code is sold on to another party those tickets will be invalid.
    "Unfortunately a small number of unscrupulous people have decided to take advantage of the fact that they had been awarded the opportunity to purchase tickets.
    "It is even more unfortunate that eBay and a number of ticket scalping sites have chosen to take advantage of this situation.
    "Please note that unless the ticket, the code and correct identification match, those tickets will be invalid.
    "Anyone who chooses to purchase tickets in this way will lose their money!
    "We urge all fans who wish to come to the concert to sit tight; as the tickets are cancelled they will be re issued at the next random selection of registrations."

  2. Well, I have to say I was a bit surprised to get an email from Steve S saying I'd been successful in the lottery - I mean surely the registration site is secure and personal details are not leaked? So I was a bit wicked off. But on the other hand I hadn't seen the congratulatory email because it had gone to a spam folder! So without Steve's email I wouldn't have known about it!! Redemption of sorts, I guess.

    A thought on the eBay tickets: When I paid for mine at 10:00pm tonight (2 Oct) there were no lower teir left and it looked like most of the upper tier had gone - if the eBay guys get in, it won't be to the best seats in the house.

    Hey, it's only been 30 years since I last saw them and I guess I'm looking forward to it! Even the outrageous add-on "booking fee" and "collection charge" are nearly palatable.


  3. I have purchased 2 tickets and would make 2 comments. If this is a benefit concert, I think one should have been given the opportunity to pay by Gift Aid on a proportion of the ticket. This way tax could be reclaimed at 28% and VAT avoided thereby boosting the money being raised for charity. Secondly, the tickets are very expensive but as this is a fund raising opportunity and a one off experience to see a rock legend, I am prepared to pay. However I was extremely surprised that Ticketmaster levy a 10% booking fee and a further fee of £2.50 to collect the tickets.

    That high booking fee and further collection fee being charged need to be addressed by the promoter. I am sure I will not be the only one who will be concerned that an additional £27.50 is added to the final cost of the tickets and this is quite wrong.

  4. I'm extremely thrilled that the tickets are non-transferable. I hope you won the chance to buy a ticket, Steve, you've earned it for your super fan status.


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