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Ticket reselling attracts controversy as college balls sell out in seconds

As ball season approaches, the popularity of several commemoration balls has skyrocketed since previous years, leaving hundreds of would-be attendees scrambling for tickets and causing controversy over ticket reselling on online platforms like Oxtickets. Balls being held at Corpus Christi, St. Peters, Univ, and Pembroke have already sold out, putting thousands of students on waiting lists. 

Tickets released last Thursday for Pembroke’s Ball were particularly difficult to score. Given that the upcoming ball will be the first held at Pembroke in nearly five years, an unusually large number of would-be attendees were seeking to buy tickets, leading ball organizers to sell tickets first to current Pembroke students on 17 January before releasing tickets to alumni and students at other colleges on 25 January. According to Pembroke Ball President, Ariff Castronovo, general release tickets sold out in just twelve seconds, leaving over 1,200 people on the waiting list. This follows a pattern set by other ball releases this year. In Michaelmas, Corpus Christi students petitioned their JCR to release more Corpus-only tickets after tickets sold out in under five minutes. 

Almost immediately, online platforms like Oxtickets, a Facebook marketplace site where students buy and sell tickets to Oxford-based events, were flooded with dozens of posts looking to buy ball tickets for well above the prices set by colleges.  In response, Pembroke’s ball committee announced that given concerns about price-gouging, name transfers on non-guest tickets were not allowed, telling Cherwell: “As per our original T&Cs, name changes are only possible for guest tickets. That means that it is not possible to change the name of the principal ticket holder in a booking”.  The ball committee also clarified that reselling tickets on Oxtickets or elsewhere was a violation of the Pembroke Ball’s T&Cs and would result in the cancellation of the sold tickets. 

Castronovo expressed concerns about the fairness of reselling, stating: “I strongly believe that it is not fair for people to be able skip the queue of many hundred other would-be attendees simply because they can afford to pay more.”

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