Leading secondary ticket agent Seatwave has accused the Royal Shakespeare Company as being behind the times for attempting to clamp down on the reselling of tickets to sold-out performances of David Tennant’s Hamlet.
Seatwave’s chief executive Joe Cohen added that theatre bosses in general had an “antiquated view of reality” when it comes to the secondary ticket market.
His comments were made after it was revealed the RSC had been contacting people advertising tickets for the show on internet sites to tell them tickets would be rendered void if resold, meaning anyone buying them could be turned away at the theatre’s door.
The RSC has been able to trace sellers who have revealed seat numbers in any descriptions of the tickets and claimed the measures have been introduced to stop tickets being sold at inflated prices.
However, Cohen said whenever there was a high demand for tickets there would always be a secondary market and accused the RSC of being out of touch with reality.
“We think, respectfully, that they have got it wrong in this case. Clearly they have got a situation where there is a very high demand for tickets to these events and a limited capacity. In every circumstance, that will create a secondary market. Whether you like it or not, that is going to happen.
“We think the RSC approach is not a solution connected to the world we live in.”
Cohen said the RSC could set any terms and conditions it wanted to, but claimed the theatre company’s position was not “supported by law”, which currently does not prevent the reselling of tickets.
He also revealed Seatwave would continue to allow sellers to advertise tickets for Hamlet and added that his site did not advertise seat numbers, meaning the RSC is unable trace anyone who uses it.
Tickets for the play are, in some cases, currently being offered for more than £300 a ticket on Seatwave, with an additional service charge from the agency itself often more than £50 per transaction.
Cohen insisted, though, that his site “used the forces of a free market” to drive prices down, because seats from different sellers are advertised alongside each other, meaning consumers can choose the lowest priced tickets available and sellers are forced to compete on price.
However, an RSC spokeswoman said the company had received “many complaints from patrons who are upset at the idea of the RSC advocating the resale of tickets at inflated prices”.
She said: “We think it is reasonable to try and protect patrons who buy tickets in good faith at prices that are set at the beginning of the booking period and especially RSC members who pay a membership fee partly to have access to popular shows prior to the public.”
She added people who bought tickets from secondary sellers risked being refused admission.