26 comments on “Albert Hall ticket touts

  1. Bit off topic, but 1st class stamps are increasing from 35p to 50p at the end of April, so that’s a 43% profit one can make in a month if one can get them!

  2. What he is doing is keeping his own money. Charidees nowadays assume they are entitled to everything that the Government hasn’t stolen first, hence the whining.

  3. How come venues don’t auction their tickets? Venue sets a reserve price. Customer goes on line, bids what they are worth to him/her. >30% above reserve guarantees the seats, reserve to 30% premium preferred if any left, reserve price gets the rags at the end. It might concentrate the venues’ minds on putting on what people want to see.
    Same, btw, goes for super-cars, super-property, and any thing for which there is a limited supply.
    Just banging on a seat price to cover costs and margin is daft when a thriving black-market is in full swing.

  4. What he’s doing, contra the sillyness above, is to use his position as a member of a charity – which is supposed to be a philanthropic act that carries no personal benefit beyond a smug glow and the advancement of the charity’s ends (plus a few posh seats) – to generate large amounts of hard cash for himself.

    Now, you might say that charities shouldn’t exist, in the sense of not being granted exemption from the taxes that they would otherwise pay. But if they do, then fairly obviously, the rules don’t allow them to be dedicated primarily to self-enrichment.

    Either he should pay the charity a market rate for his debenture (which he clearly isn’t, if he clears more in touting than he pays for the thing), or he should accept that it’s a benefit that accrues to him in his role rather than as a private individual and hence can’t be sold.

    Nick: the reason is that venues are not solely aimed at on-the-day profit maximisation, being motivated by both long-term profit and cultural evangelism. Selling every seat to the super-rich probably won’t encourage the next generation of potential Culturally Important Folks to pay attention to the opera, and hence won’t do much for opera’s long-term survival.

  5. Violating terms and conditions, presumably.

    The venue owns the seats and the performance to which the tickets entitle entry. The venue has every right to decide who should sit in the seats, by any criteria. They may select by some other criterion than maximal profit, and they have every right to do so. So, apparently this geezer was violating the venue’s right to stipulate the conditions attached to the awarding to him of tickets.

    Which is wrong. Dunno whether it should be illegal. Is probably an act of fraud.

    Hence the answer to Nick as to why they don’t do auctions, is that they presumably don’t want to do auctions, since they would if they wanted to. No business is obligated to maximise its profits, or at least shouldn’t be (I think the USA has some bizarre law stating they’re supposed to if they have shareholders(?)) but the fact is if it’s your venue, your performers and your seats you can decide who sits in them and, in this case “people who’ve bought tickets from people who were given tickets for a specific reason” are not included.

  6. Members of the RAH are not violating any terms and conditions. They are in the unique position of owning their seats having purchased them in 1866 on a 999 year lease and under the term of the Royal Charter of that year are legally allowed to do what they like with them.
    When a charity books the RAH they can choose an “exclusive let” which will allow them all the seats in the venue or a cheaper option, the “ordinary let” which excludes members seats – so the charity is not actually being deprived of any monies owing to them. The RAH will charge for the use of the hall whoever it is that books it. RAH staff will be paid, whether the concert is for charity or not. Why should members donate their seats or their proceeds from them?

  7. So, apparently this geezer was violating the venue’s right to stipulate the conditions attached to the awarding to him of tickets.

    Which is wrong. Dunno whether it should be illegal. Is probably an act of fraud.

    Except that the venue hasn’t made that stipulation. Some charities have complained that the venue isn’t either forbidding its debenture holders from selling on or ensuring that they use the official scheme which does not pay in proportion to seat face value. Hence we’ve had to have laws specially enacted for the Olympics to stop sell-on.

    Now, they may have a point under charity law – I’ve insufficient experience. In which case the RAH needs to change its Ts&Cs. And then, and only then, do the debenture holders need to comply.

    FFS – 10 of the debentures are owned through a company. What’s the purpose of that if it isn’t to resell at a profit?

  8. Oh fair enough then, if there’s nothing in the T&Cs. In that case, the primary complaint seems to be that the man’s a cunt, which seems reasonable.

  9. You’re all missing the point – the debenture seat holders don’t have to abide by the T&Cs. They OWN the seats If you read the Charter of the Corporation of the Hall of Arts & Sciences (1866) you will be amazed at what a member can do. The only thing they can’t do is sell the tickets in the vicinity of the Hall. There is nothing to stop them making a profit – in anycase they SHOULD make a profit to cover the annual donations they have to make to the RAH.
    Re: Olympic tickets. The only reason there is legislation in place to stop them being resold is because the Olympics committee would not have allowed London to bid for the Games had they not promised to do this.

  10. I thought the point of the debentures was that you were allowed to sell the seats that went with them. Wimbledon I think has a similar arrangement.

    It was the way that the trustees originally raised part of the money to build the place – essentially selling off the rights to a proportion of the seats to fund the rest.

    To stop debenture-holders from selling tickets now would be to welsh on that original deal.

  11. Richard – you’ve got it! Except that in this case it would be more than welshing on a deal, it would be contravening a Royal Charter.

  12. Thanks for clarification. Agree with Ian B; man’s a cunt, there’s nowt to do about it other than call him a cunt and (for the RAH management) be as un-nice to him as they can without breaking T&Cs.

  13. Why? Remember, the RAH is also a charity and along with other members he pays them thousands of pounds a year. The RAH could not exist without the members donations.

  14. If the guy had sent his Teenage Cancer Trust tickets back to the RAH for sale, the charity would not have got the money in any case – HE would. The TCT rented the venue without the members seats (ordinary let) so they are not entitled to the revenue.

  15. Back in the ZanuLabour days, they did a redevelopment at the RAH. The Zanu connected organiser was very upset that he couldn’t just grab the debenture seats – to sell them again!

    The moron even tried taking it to law. And found out that the legal paperwork had been done with Victorian thoroughness – designed to last 999 years.

  16. Ian B: There is, of course, no law requiring US firms to maximise profits. There is a law in most Western countries (including the UK and the US) that firms must do whatever the owners want. That’s usually maximising the firms long term value (and there’s typically a presumption that that’s what the owners will want if it’s not otherwise clear), NOT maximising profits. But any given set of owners can pick whatever goal they want, so long as it isn’t illegal.

    john b: I don’t see why the man’s a cunt. Effectively, some seats in the RAH are owned by the RAH, and tickets for them can be sold for any price the RAH wants. And some seats in the RAH are owned by the debenture holders, and can be sold for any price the debenture holders want. If different seat owners pick different prices for tickets, why is one of them a cunt and the other one not? Do we just pick the seller of the highest priced ticket and declare him a cunt? Or the sellers of every ticket except the lowest priced one? If one debenture holder gives a ticket away to the friend, does that mean the RAH itself is now a cunt for not giving away all their tickets?

  17. For today’s Teenage Cancer Trust concert in particular, the performing artists, who usually charge for their labours, are working for free, presumably not because they are anxious to enrich the debenture holders.

    I’d like that think that if I were a debenture holder I’d donate to the charity whatever money I got for the tickets.

  18. PaulB,
    If you were a debenture seat holder and donated all the money you received for charity concerts you would soon be seriously out of pocket. Don’t think you realise how many of the concerts at the RAH are put on by charities.

  19. PaulB,
    The artists MAY be working for free (although to ensure getting tickets for Macca you had to join his fan club @ £38 a pop), but don’t forget they are also getting wonderful publicity. The RAH and their staff charge the going rate, whether it’s for charity or not.

  20. I’ve not studied the RAH schedule. If selling the tickets is all that stands between the debenture holders and starvation, they could donate to charity just the premium attracted by the particular charity artists.

  21. Isn’t the issue whether some of these debenture holders are also trustees of RAH and whether or not in their capacity as trustees they are acting improperly to benefit themselves with their debentures?

  22. For April alone there are 10 charity concerts.
    Yes, many of the trustees and members do donate their personal profits to some of the charities. But the profits are nowhere as big as The Times would have you believe. Members pay enormous sums each year in service fees and donations which are not voluntary. They contribute large amounts to the rebuilding projects as well.

    Had to laugh at Eric Clapton’s indignant remarks in The Times today. It’s not so many years ago that he sold on his own personal 12-seater box. One wonders how much he got for it and if he donated any of the proceeds to charity.

  23. Another point – some of the boxes are actually owned by the RAH themselves and are not included in the “ordinary” lets. Has anyone checked what they do with the profits?

  24. Correction – Clapton’s box was an 8-seater and it was sold on to another world famous guitarist who has remained suspiciously silent during this discussion!

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