I really like French music.
MC Solaar. Charlotte Gainsbourg. Carla Bruni. I can’t get enough of it. Sadly, it’s quite rare for a French language musician to tour the UK. However, when Belgian-Rwandan rapper Stromae announced tour dates in London, I was overjoyed.
He was playing at Koko — a reasonably small music venue in Camden, and tickets were sure to get snapped up in short order. This is largely due to the huge amount of French language speakers in London (400,000 French people live in London. More French people live in London than Bordeaux or Strasbourg), as well as the huge amounts of press Stromae has received in the anglophone world, with the New York Times and The Guardian having written features about him.
With mere seconds to spare, I snapped up tickets for myself and two friends of mine who are based in Geneva; Switzerland’s Francophone capital.
But then we suddenly found ourselves unable to attend. Admittedly, none of us fancied the tedious trip to London and facing the grim weather found in England’s capital.
So, the decision was made to flog the tickets, which at this point were going for £150 each on Seatwave.
The rise and rise of Seatwave has been phenomenal. Since 2007, they have placed a legitimate face upon the once shady face of ticket touting. Part of this is a result of their Ticket Integrity guarantee, which states:
You will receive the ticket you ordered, on time, valid for entry.
If not, we’ll do everything within our power to get you a replacement, equivalent or better at no extra cost.
Failing that (and it does mean we’ve failed you) we’ll give you a full refund.
If you are selling on Seatwave we promise you will get paid on time for the tickets you sell and deliver.
We call this our Ticket Integrity and it means you can buy from us with absolute confidence.
What’s not to love? The consumer gets what they’ve paid for and is protected against forgeries and counterfeit tickets. Sellers are spared the excruciating process of chasing up payment.
Listing My Tickets
I was convinced.
I saw that tickets were being sold for £150 a pop, so I decided to be a bit sneaky and undercut the other sellers by listing them for £90 each. It was easy, painless and secure. I left the house, and went for a walk.
By the time I came back, they had been sold.
When I came to upload my ticket, I noticed something odd.
Please make sure all members of your party are with you when you check in.Please print this email and bring it with you to the event together with a form of id and the credit/debit card that you used to make the booking. These will be required to ensure you are checked in and admitted.
That Ticket Integrity Guarantee
Before I carry on, I just want to state something.
I’m totally at fault here. I messed up. I dropped the ball. I should have read the tickets before selling them. I’m glad that it was caught at this stage, because it would have broken my heart to disappoint the people who bought my tickets.
I should have read what my tickets said, and then I never should have sold them in the first place.
Remember that Ticket Integrity guarantee I mentioned earlier? Well, one thing it failed to mention in the marketing material was what happens when a ticket sale goes awry. Without quoting the legalese found in the Terms and Conditions (which you can read here, if you are so inclined. Section 9:3 is the pertinent one), the seller is liable to pay what’s called a ‘failed order’ fee, which includes £25 charges, 25% of the ticket cost and any additional costs associated with sourcing a replacement ticket.
I phoned up the helpline (which was an expensive, premium-rate non-geographic number, although I found a cheap geographic number. Based in Ireland) and I got through to a rather helpful person who made me feel at ease. This happens all the time. Don’t worry.
I just needed to send them a letter of authorization, and the buyer would get into the concert just fine. Nothing to worry about.
Everything was fine, until it wasn’t
Last Monday, I got an email.
After looking at the E-Ticket you have sent it is not a standard E-Ticket, unfortunately we will have to cancel this order as the venue will require them to have the card that was used to purchase the tickets and ID.
Sorry for the inconvenience but as you can understand a letter of authorization in this case won’t work.
I’m still on the hook. Because I decided to be sneaky and undercut the other sellers, odds are good I’m going to face a massive fee. This will almost certainly be in the hundreds of pounds, exacerbated because I decided to list my tickets at a low price. Time will only tell how much I’m going to get stung for.
It’s quite unorthodox for someone to write an article about how using a service cost him hundreds of pounds, and then go on to recommend that particular service. But I am. Here goes.
If you want to go to a gig which has sold out, I recommend you use Seatwave. Seriously It’s safe. It’s secure. The site is pretty decent. You’re guaranteed to get into the gig, if things actually do go wrong. You’re not going to get these protections from buying your ticket from a bloke on the street. Just use Seatwave.
But if you’re a seller?
Be extremely careful. I’ve read stories of people who have made seemingly innocent mistakes (listing tickets for the wrong date) and being faced with excruciatingly huge fees as a result. If you slip up, or if your tickets contain a ‘gotcha’ as mine did, or if your buyers find themselves on the wrong side of a bouncer, you could find yourself paying an eyewatering-ly huge amount.
I don’t ask for sympathy. My predicament is one of my own creation, and I plan to accept the consequences like an adult. I just ask that you heed my warning and take care when selling tickets online. In retrospect, I really should have read the terms and conditions of the site. One of my colleagues – Erez Zukerman – has written a rather excellent piece on how to read these incredibly dry texts, and you’d do well to check it out.
Have you used Seatwave before? Love it? Hate it? Let me know how it worked for you in the comments below.