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Ed Sheeran wins in war with ticket touts

PUBLISHED: 14:47 27 August 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 27 August 2019

Ed Sheeran's second night at Chantry Park in Ipswich, performing to a crowd of more than 40,000 people  Picture: ZAKARY WALTERS

Ed Sheeran's second night at Chantry Park in Ipswich, performing to a crowd of more than 40,000 people Picture: ZAKARY WALTERS

Archant

A campaigner who became part of Ed Sheeran's purge on ticket resales has called the star an example for others to follow.

Claire Turnham outside the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion  Picture: ARCHANTClaire Turnham outside the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion Picture: ARCHANT

For the first time ever on Sunday no one reported to Claire Turnham's stand after being declined entry to Ed's gigs for buying a ticket from a site not authorised by his team.

Ms Turnham set up the 'Victim of Viagogo' group in early 2017 after she tried to buy four tickets to see his Dublin gig for her son's birthday, but said she was overcharged by more than £1,000.

Ms Turnham, who said the group had helped reclaim £1.25m in what she called a "David and Goliath" battle, went from having 13 stands at Wembley Stadium last year, to just one at Chantry Park - and no visitors for an entire night.

She said the process of setting strict terms and conditions had worked in favour of Ed and his fans - with anyone declined entry directed to her 'box office', advised how to reclaim money and offered the opportunity to buy a ticket at face value.

Ed Sheeran on stage at Chantry Park  Picture: ARCHANTEd Sheeran on stage at Chantry Park Picture: ARCHANT

"Victim of Viagogo has been at every show," she added.

"We have supported and cared for thousands of fans.

"Our intention is simply to help people. It's all about trust and relationships.

"Working alongside Ed and his team over the last two years has been incredible. What we have achieved together is amazing.

"We hope other artists follow this model because it clearly works.

"As I was sitting there in the sunshine with no one in my queue, the truth of our success speaks for itself.

"It's bittersweet knowing Monday was the last show and I may have done myself out of a job. I have loved every part of being on this tour."

Ms Turnham, who was awarded an MBE for services to consumer rights in January, said she was overwhelmed by the Ed Sheeran: Made in Suffolk exhibition at Christchurch Mansion on Monday.

"The show encapsulates Ed and gives us an insight into who he is, where he's from and what has made him into such a beautiful, sensitive human," she said.

"What resonates is the strong connection Ed has with his family, his friends, his music and his home. All the creativity and love surrounding him comes shining through.

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"Ed has integrity. Through his commitment to fairness he has shown his fans are important to him."

What was said to a Culture, Media and Sport select committee on secondary ticketing

In 2017, Claire Turnham addressed a Commons select committee, which also heard from Ed's manager about how tickets for his Teenage Cancer Trust show at the Royal Albert Hall were being listed for £5,000 on Viagogo.

Promoter Stuart Galbraith, of Kilimanjaro Live, imposed strict rules to crack down on secondary ticket sales, with recent shows using 'paperless' ticketing, and fans asked to produce the purchaser's credit or debit card, ID and booking confirmation.

Those unable to go could sell tickets to other fans at face value, plus booking fee, at the point of purchase.

In November, following a review of four platforms, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would take action against sites suspected of breaking consumer laws. In July, pressure group FanFair Alliance welcomed the CMA's plan to move forward with proceedings after Viagogo had "not done enough to overhaul the way it presents information on its website".

Viagogo's response

Viagogo said it neither buys nor sells tickets, but that it provides a platform for sellers to resell tickets and for buyers to access tickets to concerts, sporting matches or cultural events.

A spokesman said: "In the very rare cases where there are issues fulfilling a transaction, such as in the case of the Champions League final, then we will step in and purchase tickets directly. Our primary focus is on ensuring our customers receive their tickets and are able to attend an event."

The firm said it operated entirely within the bounds of consumer laws; that its customer guarantees effectively cancel out the likelihood of receiving fake tickets because the sellers simply won't get paid.

It said issues and complaints related to tickets are extremely rare, with millions of customers returning to buy and sell tickets.

"Viagogo fundamentally believes in the right in the transferability of event tickets," said the spokesman.

"Whether that's a physical ticket which has been posted, an e-ticket, or a name-based system at the door, we believe in providing the service to people who need or want to resell their ticket.

"It is up to the tour organiser to determine whether they are content to deny entry to a holder of a valid ticket."

The company said the majority of sellers were private customers who, for whatever reason, are no longer able to attend an event and don't want to be left out of pocket.

"It is extremely difficult to source tickets for high profile events given the customer demand, so the chances of buying in bulk is extremely low," it added.

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