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This time last week, tickets went on sale for Take That at the NEC and as soon as they were all gone the re-selling began - at predictably inflated prices. Dionne McCarthy gets tout and about.

Take That fans are faced with ticket prices of up to ten times their value if they want to see the boys in their return tour.

Phone lines were jammed and Internet sites crashed as frenzied fans clambered to book tickets for the Manchester concert dates in December. Some die-hard fans even camped outside the NEC up to three days before tickets went on sale. Within two hours all tickets had been sold and could be found shortly afterwards on eBay and other internet auction sites for as much as £800 a pair!

Take That manager Jonathon Wild has said that the tickets were priced at a modest £25-£45 so as not to extort money from the true fans, and the band are now disappointed and urging fans not to buy from eBay. Thatters are also calling for eBay to ban the touts and stop the extortion but a spokesman for eBay has said:

"We operate within the law, and we cannot stop people selling what they want to sell as long as it's legal. Once tickets have been purchased by someone they are their property to do with as they will."

So who should take responsibility for this problem? It is certainly an ethical problem not one for the cops; as eBay have quite rightly stated, it is not against the law for a person to sell something that belongs to them and at a 1000% mark up. I'm already thinking that I may be in the wrong business!

But it does feel immoral - I know we're only talking about Take That tickets, nobody's selling their granny but for the average working family who might not spend £800 on their annual holiday this is out and out extortion.

And this feels like a growing problem, the average ticket tout is no longer a shifty man stood on a street corner trying to make a few quid ten minutes before show time, it's people like you and me who see an opportunity to make some easy cash. Sites like eBay have turned us all into touts, for a few pence and with a limitless consumer base we can name our price and someone out there is always willing to pay it.

So it seems unfortunately, unless we have a mass attack of conscience, it's increasingly only those with a stuffed wallet who will be able to afford to see their pop idols in the flesh!

Are touts the scum of the earth, ripping off genuine fans? Or are they service providers fixing faults in the distribution system by providing a free market solution? And how much have you ever paid? Leave a comment on the message board.


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