It’s time to take firm action and stop ticket touts ripping off music fans

Ticket touts used to be those dodgy guys who hung around outside stadiums or ­concert halls with bundles of tickets in their pockets. But today, the ticketing business is a multi-million pound international concern and one of our biggest consumer crises.

Buying a ticket for a concert should be easy. If you want to see your favourite band – get on the internet, book it and pay for it. But anyone who has tried to book tickets recently will know that is not always how it happens.

From the first click of the mouse, music fans are exposed to any number of touts, profiteers and spivs determined to maximise their return at the expense of genuine fans. Those dodgy guys who used to stand outside venues are now in offices all over the world.

It is now a business built to ­maximise profits and exploit a consumer from that first click. Too many consumers are being exploited with tickets for events grabbed up by touts in minutes and resold at sky high-rates. It happens all the time and it is not fair.

My colleagues Patricia Gibson – the SNP consumer affairs spokesperson – and Pete Wishart – formerly a musician in the band RunRig – have been leading at Westminster on the issue of the broken ticket-buying system in the UK.

In his Westminster debate last week, Pete described it as a “rip-off machine” that exists from the artist management and promoter all the way down to the unsuspecting fan.

It was the Record which reported that the Rolling Stones were offered cash to put their tickets on sale to an agency who have invidious relationships with some ticketing sites. They turned that down but it shows how deeply flawed the whole thing is.

The disregard for fans from those at the top of the music ­business is clear.

Many of those fans will be young people – ­already ­struggling because of Tory ­austerity – so given the UK­ ­Government’s inaction, it has been left to the artists and musicians to try to develop ­solutions to protect fans.

Bands have attempted to put all sorts of tough terms and conditions on their tickets to try to keep them out of the hands of touts, and are looking at ever more innovative solutions to protect fans.

Artists including Adele, Ed Sheeran, Noel Gallagher, Bastille and the Arctic Monkeys, have used a number of anti-touting strategies – but we need the UK Government to take the lead.

The Government can rid us of these touts – and they should listen to consumers.

They have the powers and must act now to deter and prevent this kind of profiteering, including examining the feasibility of capping the resale value of tickets, and more measures to restrict the use of the software touts can now use to harvest swathes of tickets to resell.

More needs to be done to protect consumers and to keep live music ­affordable and accessible.