x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Grand Prix to cancel tickets resold for inflated prices

Organisers of the capital's inaugural Formula One Grand Prix threaten action after scalpers surface on the internet.

Fans line up to buy tickets for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from an authorised seller in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall in March.
Fans line up to buy tickets for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from an authorised seller in Abu Dhabi's Marina Mall in March.

ABU DHABI // Organisers of the capital's inaugural Formula One Grand Prix said they will cancel tickets found to have been sold for more than their face value. Some tickets for the race weekend in November are being sold by online touts for more than double their official retail value. Abu Dhabi Motorsport Management (ADMM), who are organising the race, said they would cancel tickets sold to agents who are selling them on again for heavily inflated prices.

The tickets, which have been available since late March, were snapped up in days, with seats in some of the most sought-after stands selling out within hours of going on sale. Seats are still available, however. Richard Cregan, the chief executive of ADMM, urged fans to buy tickets from official sources such as the 800F1 hotline, the yasmarinacircuit.ae website and Etihad Holidays shops. "Some people may try to exploit the high demand for Grand Prix tickets by selling them for more than the face value of the ticket.

"That is why all of our tickets - which will be sent out to patrons later this year - will have the price printed on them. You can also find the correct price for tickets on our website," he said. Each ticket will also include a microchip that will register the buyer's name. If a ticket is lost during the race weekend, a replacement can be obtained if proof of identity is given. On souq.com, a Dubai-based auction site, one vendor placed a pair of two-day tickets for the north grandstand on sale for a total of Dh8,000 (US$2,180). Two-day seats in the grandstand, one of the most popular locations on the circuit, are available through official channels for only Dh1,800, and up until May 31, were available for Dh1,600.

A vendor on Dubizzle, another UAE site, is offering a seat in the main grandstand, which would ordinarily cost Dh2,250, for Dh4,000. While reselling tickets for more than their face value is not illegal, it does violate the conditions under which the tickets were originally sold. "If people can't use their tickets for some reason, they can either sell them to someone else at face value or give them away," said Mr Cregan.

"But we won't allow people to make money by increasing the price. Where we find instances of people trying to sell tickets for profit - as in a couple of cases that The National has very kindly brought to our attention - we will cancel those tickets and go to the websites concerned and do all we can to stop them from posting these offers." Mr Cregan said some seats remained available for the race, and that anyone who had concerns over tickets they had bought could contact ADMM on 02 4100 888.

People are limited to purchasing 10 tickets per person and anyone wishing to buy a larger allocation, such as a social group, had to make a group application to ADMM that was considered on an individual basis. According to the purchase terms and conditions, tickets cannot be sold on for profit. They can be passed on to friends or relatives from one race day to another. If a friend or relative loses the ticket, proof of the link between the seller and buyer is likely to be needed to obtain a replacement.

Auction websites may also step in. JC Butler, Dubizzle's managing partner, said tickets would be taken off its site if it was contacted by event organisers. "Normally, we don't stop them but if an event organiser has a big problem with it and asks us to take it down, we will. Also if it is against our policy or the law we'll take it off-line ourselves. "If we ever come across something or if it's reported illegal or offensive, and breaks the conditions we will take it down. A lot of the time they are brought to our attention by users."

On eBay, a two-day ticket for the south grandstand, where a number of seats remain available, was being touted by a vendor based in Britain for £480 (Dh2,847), almost double their current Dh1,660 market value. One Norwegian website, euroteam.net, is selling three-day tickets for the main grandstand, which sold out almost immediately on release to the public, for ?700 (Dh3,647) each. That is more than 60 per cent above their face value.

The same site is selling three-day tickets for the north grandstand, which would ordinarily cost Dh1,980, for ?625, or 64 per cent more. Apart from Dubizzle, no one from the websites was available to comment. In fact websites were even found to be selling tickets for the F1 race before they had gone on sale, and before prices had even been set. In February, organisers of the Dubai Tennis Championship issued warnings after it transpired that tickets for the competition were trading hands for almost seven times their face value.

Within hours of their going on sale for up to Dh150 each, auction sites were offering them on sale for up to Dh1,000, despite the tickets stating that they could not be resold. rhughes@thenational.ae