Monty Python and the ticket touts

After tickets for Monty Python's comeback gigs sold out before you could say 'ni', many went on sale again – at a vastly inflated cost. How do the touts get away with it?

Even if you were up with the lark – or, indeed, the dead parrot – on Monday morning with your laptop at the ready, the chances are that you still missed out on tickets for Monty Python's long-awaited comedy reunion, which went on sale at 10am.

According to promoters of the event at the O2 Arena, the first batch of tickets sold out in 43.5 seconds of frantic page-refreshing from buyers bombarding the websites of the official retailers, O2 and Ticketmaster. Four extra nights previously unannounced (but clearly pre-planned) were added, but these also sold out rapidly.

It's an all-too-familiar experience for fans, who soon spotted tickets appearing for "resale" at heavily marked-up prices on marketplace sites including Seatwave, viagogo and Get Me In!

"It's extraordinarily frustrating. I'm an obsessive Monty Python fan and when am I ever going to see them again without paying a small fortune to one of these rip-off merchants?" says Jo Selwood from Oxford, 34, who spent Monday morning failing to secure tickets, and wrote to The Independent's letters editor to share her frustration.

According to O2 and Ticketmaster, buyers were limited to four tickets per cardholder to the event, but yesterday lunchtime more than 1,800 tickets were available on Seatwave and a further 1,100 were available via Get Me In! Many of these were at four or five times their original value, while one enterprising vendor was offering a pair of VIP tickets for £4,999. Originally they would have cost £495 each, while £32.50 tickets were on sale for £125 to £200.

Seatwave was unavailable for comment yesterday, but a spokesman for viagogo pointed out that just because a third party is selling on a resale site a ticket for a certain price, "it doesn't mean it will sell at that price". Get Me In! made a similar point.

Of course, "touted" tickets aren't new. Earlier this year, one tout was reported to be offering tickets to see Helen Mirren in the hit play The Audience outside the Gielgud Theatre for £500 a pair – five times their official cost. However, the problem is more severe online, where last month, under the guise of David Brent, Ricky Gervais tweeted that digital touts were "fucking disgusting" after tickets to two of his gigs sold out in less than a minute, only to appear with a hefty mark-up elsewhere.

Richard Davies, a London web designer who created @Twickets, a Twitter account to encourage music fans to exchange unwanted tickets for sold-out shows at face value, says, "This is nothing new. It's just that these so-called ticket resales have become so blatant.

"It's morally so wrong and the argument that reselling tickets is part of an open market is just a smokescreen for an unacceptable practice."

Davies adds that it is "odd" that so many Monty Python tickets had appeared on Get Me In! – which is owned by Ticketmaster – so quickly. This rings especially true in a world where major music acts and comedians make most of their money from live shows rather than from record or DVD sales.

Ticketmaster denies that tickets from its allocations are funnelled to Get Me In! and industry insiders told The Independent they'd be shocked if it were true. A spokesman for Get Me In! is quick to defend reselling: "Fans sometimes need to resell tickets to events and Get Me In! offers a safe and secure marketplace for this to take place. Much like other online marketplaces, the listing, pricing and dispatch of tickets are all done by the seller."

The MP Sharon Hodgson, who has tried to introduce a Bill to battle ticket touts, is calling for more extreme action, though: "Yet again, we're seeing fans lose out as touts cash in on the back of the talent of others… it's time for ministers to act to ensure the secondary market works in the interest of fans, and not just a handful of major touts."

However, Jonathan Brown, the secretary of the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star), is more nuanced. He admits that touting is the "single biggest issue" facing theatre land but says that the "market isn't likely to change any time soon".

"We battled against the secondary ticket-resale market when it launched several years ago, but the market has changed since then. The public wanted a resale market, and this is exactly what they got."

Mr Brown does call on buyers to stick to agents and retailers who are members of Star, though, who are prevented from reselling tickets at a profit. For Ms Selwood, though, that rules out Seatwave, viagogo and Get Me In! as a way of getting in to see her comedy heroes.

However, she does have a simpler solution to the problem: "Government, and more importantly the venues, should do more. Why not make it mandatory to present the card the ticket was purchased on when you arrive for a gig or concert? With all the modern technology available I don't see how it's that difficult to stop these rip-off merchants."

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine