Ticketmaster rival to drop hidden charges

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The Independent Online

The unpopular £2.50 Ticketmaster charge for printing your own concert tickets could become a thing of the past, as a major new rival promises to revolutionise the online buying experience and sweep away hidden charges.

From the Rolling Stones to the London Olympics, most fans have been required to negotiate a ticketing platform run by Ticketmaster, which sold more than 250 million tickets last year.

That dominance will now be challenged by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the US sports and entertainment company, which operates the O2 Arena and owns a stake in the LA Galaxy soccer team.

AEG is launching a "fan-friendly" platform in the UK, AXS.com, which the company says will make the ticket-buying process easier, cheaper and more transparent. Ticketmaster was criticised by Which? last week for charging fans £2.50 for printing out their own tickets at home.

"We will not charge fans for doing us a favour and printing out their own tickets with their own ink," said Dean DeWulf, vice-president of AXS Europe, which has chosen the Girls Aloud reunion shows at the O2, going on sale on Friday, to be the first sold through AXS.

The new site promises an Invite option – fans can reserve adjacent seats for friends so that they can all sit together. Buyers then invite their friends to buy the nearby seats via Facebook or email. The seats can be reserved for 48 hours.