Going to Hell for Harry

Fans are looking for a villain who may not be there

The odds were not in favour of most Harry Styles fans who attempted to get tickets to his super intimate tour when they went on sale on 5th May, 2017. With just over 3,000 tickets available for the whole country the purchase process was never going to be pleasant but for a lot of fans it felt like they were at an unfair disadvantage.

Fighting against other fans was bad enough, but fighting against the seemingly unstoppable electronic ticket scalpers was too much to bare.

Last time Harry Styles toured Australia he played stadiums. While Harry is no longer accompanied by his One Direction bandmates he could easily sell out an arena or two.

To make matters worse, another massive tour was selling tickets the same day as fans were about to battle it out for an unreasonably small number of Harry Styles tickets. When Harry’s fans tried to log on they were confronted by a website overloaded. Ticketek was already over capacity trying to accommodate Bruno Mars’ fans – Harry Styles’ fans didn’t stand a chance.

“They had been doing the Bruno Mars sale earlier that day and so the system was already overloaded,” says fan Georgia Carroll. “It was extremely frustrating.”

There is very little Ticketek could do to prevent the two artists shows from going on sale on the same day, but fans were still incredibly frustrated before they even got the chance to try for tickets.

The extreme level of frustration, from the small number of tickets to the technical difficultly, caused by the amount of people trying to access Ticketek at the same time, was not conducive to an enjoyable customer experience. This might begin to explain why fans seem to have an incredibly negative view of their experience, to the point where they’re seeing demons that might not actually be there.

There were a number of measures put in place by Frontier Touring to prevent scalpers from having an advantage. There were ticket limits in place and no physical tickets will be released until a month before the show, in Melbourne no physical tickets will be released at all and fans will have to show identification proving their name matches the credit card used to purchase the tickets in order to enter the venue.

Frontier Touring also stated that anyone who tries to re-sell without express permission will have their transaction cancelled.

Promotional image for Harry Styles tour via HarryStyles.co.uk

A lot of thought and planning went into making sure fans were the ones that got tickets and as of right now it seems to have worked. Sam Murphy at Musicfeeds.com.au wrote the day after tickets went on sale that “re-sale sites are not selling any tickets to the shows”.

A month after tickets went on sale that is still mostly true. Ticketmaster Resale has no results for Harry Styles but Viagogo has two tickets for the Melbourne show. The tickets are listed for almost $2000. Given the strict rules about ticket collection and venue access, as well as the threat of ticket cancellation purchasing those tickets doesn’t seem worth the risk.

Harry Styles performs on The Graham Norton Show, giving fans a taste of what they might see if they were lucky enough to get tickets to his tour.

Despite this some fans seem convinced that tickets were snapped up by scalpers. Belle Owen insisted that “from the immediate listings for resale” whatever tactics Ticketek and Frontier employed to prevent scalping “probably” didn’t work.

Interestingly, Belle said while she had never purchased tickets from scalpers before she was tempted in this instance. Given the number of listings on Gumtree from folks seeking to buy Harry Styles tickets it seems Belle is not the only one considering scalpers as an option.

Almost as soon as the tickets had sold out fans were looking for someone other than the official channels to sell them tickets.

There are over 30 ads on Gumtree asking for someone to sell tickets to Harry Styles Sydney or Melbourne shows. Someone is even offering $100,000 for one Harry Styles ticket!

Wanted ads taken from Gumtree.com.au requesting Harry Styles tickets.

Ticket sellers like Ticketek and promoters like Frontier Touring can only do so much as long as fans are willing to pay exorbitant prices for resale tickets to sold out concerts.

Given the overall experience, based largely on external factors, there wasn’t much more Ticketek could have done to make fans happy. “I think they did their best given the situation” admitted Georgia Carroll. But there was one thing that she agreed made the experience more frustrating than it should have been, the captchas. Those little boxes designed to prove your humanity.

“I spent just as long trying to get past the captcha verification,” said Georgia. Belle did see the captchas as an attempt by Ticketek to prevent scalping but said “they were a hindrance when refreshing”. Georgia added that she understood why they had captchas but suggested “they should have had a clearer system outside of just having to complete captchas a million times”.

Both Belle and Georgia were quick to mention that purchasing Harry Styles tickets was not a typical experience. “Obviously bigger shows have different needs in terms of preventing scalpers but the Harry shows are a whole other thing” said Belle.

This was a unique experience for fan and seller alike, so it’s not really a representative example of the ticket buying experience. They size of the venues meant that promoters were able to implement extra security, such as the need for identification to pick of tickets, that would not be practical for a larger event. That said it has been an interesting and arguably successful experiment.

Image: Frontier Touring

Given the new measures introduced by Frontier Touring there’s a chance that more tickets will appear after the 16th October when purchasers will be able to collect physical tickets for the Sydney show. But a month after tickets went on sale it seems as though scalpers have been left out in the cold for Harry Styles shows at least.

It’s intriguing that fans had such a different idea about who bought tickets, than what actually appears to be the case. They were ready and willing to blame any force other than sheer luck, it seems.

Basically fans are looking for a villain when the truth is there were simply not enough tickets to go around.

Harry Styles did give fans a light at the end of their tunnel of disappointment when he tweeted suggesting he’ll be coming back next year. Only time will tell if fans will have a better experience next time around.

About Yvonne Popplewell 3 Articles
Yvonne Popplewell A.K.A Undie Girl is a Australian writer and blogger, her story “The Flat Screen” was recently published in Hope: An Anthology and she received a Commended Certificate in the 2016 Rhonda Jankovic Literary Awards. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from The University of Newcastle and has written for a number of popular culture blogs, including TheGeekiary.com. Currently she is completing a Master’s in Media Practice at The University of Sydney while working on her first novel. She has a wide range of influences, but always comes back to the classics. More often than not it’s Jane Austen. Yvonne lives in Copacabana, not the one in Rio, with a life-size cardboard cut-out of One Direction.

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