Music Fans Lose Out Again As Ticketing Sites Are Shut Down

(Guardian) – FOLLOWING AN INVESTIGATION, the government has stepped in to shut down two ticket websites amid fears that large numbers of music fans may have been left out of pocket.

Guardian Money revealed that the two firms behind and have been put into provisional liquidation “on the grounds of public interest”.

It is thought hundreds of people have handed over money for tickets which they have not received. They have been warned by the Insolvency Service that “unfortunately, the company does not have any tickets to distribute to customers”.

Events that the websites had been heavily promoting include Tuesday’s London 02 Arena show by Paul McCartney, rock band Muse’s UK stadium gigs next autumn, Alicia Keys’ May 2010 UK tour, and US rock outfit Pearl Jam’s London Hyde Park gig next June.

In recent months the companies have been busy issuing press releases and penning blogs in a bid to raise their profile. A press release promoting the Pearl Jam show, and containing a link to one of the websites, was issued on 9 December – the day the official receiver was appointed provisional liquidator following the presentation of a “winding-up petition” by the business secretary Lord Mandelson.

It is not yet known how many people have lost money, or the sums involved, though a spokesman for the Insolvency Service says it received 250 emails from potential ticket purchasers in the space of four days.

The two companies put into provisional liquidation are the Online Ticket Exchange, based at 85/87 Borough High Street in south-east London, and Ticketmate, based in Grays, Essex.

A Companies House search reveals that the director of both is Tony Triphook, 55, of Grays.

There was also bad news for people who have sold event tickets to the websites. The Insolvency Service spokesman says, based on current information, “the company does not have any funds to pay for those tickets, or any tickets to return to customers. Should the company be wound up at the hearing on 28 January, customers with outstanding claims will be classed as creditors in the liquidation proceedings”.

However, those who paid by credit card may be able to get a refund from their card company.

Several consumer websites and fan forums feature comments from people who say they have been let down by the firm. On the review centre, one fan says he handed over £450, “and now they have been closed down. I’m sure that cash is gone”. Another says: “I was desperate to see Kiss in May 2010 and bought tickets for me and my dad totalling £100.”

Ticketing expert Reg Walker, operations director of the Iridium Consultancy, says he believes “a significant number” of people have been left high and dry. He praised the work done by the companies investigation branch of the Insolvency Service, and said: “It needs to be backed up by a criminal investigation by police and the Serious Fraud Office into the activities of past and current directors.”