EBay denies any blame for Glastonbury fiasco

The online auction company says it is not to blame for changes made to the festival's ticketing operation following widespread online touting last year

Online auction company eBay has denied any responsibility for the changes to the ticket sales procedure for this year's Glastonbury festival, which organisers have admitted contributed to the poor performance of the event's online ticket sales operation.

After tickets sold out in record time in 2003 -- many finding their way onto eBay priced at many times their value -- the music festival's organisers discussed plans to overhaul the ticket-sales procedure for this year's event in order to prevent touting.

Commenting in June last year, organisers confirmed that they were "looking at many options with regard to ticket distribution, in direct response to this year's record sell-out. The speed with which tickets were snapped up has prompted a review of how we market and distribute them."

According to the company hosting the online sales, aloud.com, the changes, which included banning credit cards and forcing customers to provide a name and address, have contributed to the slow performance of the site. Many would-be concert goers have been attempting to log on to the site throughout the night with little success.

However, a spokesperson for eBay said the company couldn't be blamed for any changes that Glastonbury organisers may have made to their systems but admitted the company had prepared a statement in case of any difficulties this year.

"EBay is merely an online marketplace or venue which allows registered users to buy and sell practically anything. eBay views the selling of these concert tickets as a private matter between the event organiser and the seller.  eBay is not a party to the contracts between the organisers and the ticketholders," the statement claimed.

Glastonbury founder and organiser Michael Eavis approached eBay last year to have up to 500 tickets removed from the auction site. "We're getting on to eBay and eBay apparently can stop the sale of the tickets that are being offered at these extortionate prices. We do have a system of actually preventing those tickets being sold at those prices," he told the BBC.

The statement from eBay actually claims that tickets can only be removed from the site via a court injunction since the auction site does not own the merchandise it sells. According to the spokesperson, eBay advised Glastonbury organisers to take out injunctions against touts last year but they declined.

The eBay statement also argues that, strictly speaking, ticket touting isn't illegal. "There is primary legislation such as the Price Indications (Resale of Tickets) Regulations 1994 which specifically implies that event tickets can be resold".

However, the auction site said it will provide "assistance to the event organiser, for example, the organiser is able to directly email the seller through eBay and inform the seller that he is in a breach of his contract and ask him to voluntarily remove the listing.  Furthermore, if the event organiser obtains a court order or an injunction against any seller, eBay will always act promptly in accordance with any court order."

Glastonbury founder Eavis has admitted were problems with the site's performance this year and that it had crashed completely during the early hours of Friday morning.

The events organisers were approached for comment but no reply was forthcoming in time.