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Ticketing boss slams Viagogo for ‘sneaky’ £6k Hamilton tickets

Touts have targeted Hamilton, one of the most eagerly awaited openings of the year. Photo: Joan Marcus
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Secondary ticketing site Viagogo has been branded “a blot on the landscape” by the ticketing director for forthcoming West End musical Hamilton.

Keith Kenny, sales and ticketing director for Hamilton at Cameron Mackintosh, was giving evidence this week to a Culture, Media and Sport Committee on misuse of the secondary ticketing market, and issued an impassioned plea for stronger action to be taken against sites such as Viagogo that list marked-up tickets, as well as the online touts selling them.

Earlier this year, Cameron Mackintosh unveiled plans to thwart online touts from buying up large numbers of tickets to Hamilton and reselling them at vastly inflated prices. The paperless ticketing system requires audiences to bring photo identification and the payment card used to book when they attend the show and will not be issued with tickets ahead of time.

Despite this, seats for Hamilton were being listed on secondary site Viagogo within minutes of going on sale. They are currently listed for up to £6,000 each.

Kenny said steps would be in place when Hamilton opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London later this year to prevent touts arriving at the venue, picking tickets up using their identification, and passing them on to secondary buyers. He did not elaborate on these methods but said they “would not be the same every evening”.

Kenny described Viagogo as a “blot on the landscape”, adding that it was the only secondary ticketing site to be listing Hamilton seats.

Consumer rights legislation dictates that the face value of the ticket and its exact location must be listed alongside any resale. Kenny said this was not happening on Viagogo, making it difficult for touts and illicit secondary tickets to be identified.

“It shouldn’t be up to us to do all this detective work,” he said.

He added: “Ultimately, our terms and conditions say ticket reselling is forbidden. If you look at the way that glossy, sneaky site is constructed, they’ve gone an awful long way not to be compliant in the way they’ve built their site.”

He called for more to be done to force secondary sites such as Viagogo to list the required information as well as any risks involved.

Kenny went on to say that Cameron Mackintosh Ltd had written to Viagogo bosses to inform them that reselling was prohibited and could result in tickets not being honoured, also requesting that Hamilton listings be removed. He said he had yet not received a reply.

Viagogo was called to give evidence in the session but did not attend.

Committee member Nigel Huddleston said: “They [Viagogo] have clearly shown a lack of respect to parliamentarians and by extension the British public and I think we need to be very angry with that.”

Viagogo had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Earlier this month, a move to criminalise the use of ticket harvesting software, known as ‘bots’, was welcomed by the entertainment industry and campaigners, who said it would be “hugely important in helping clean up this market”.

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