Major clampdown ordered on rogue ticket resellers
Ticket resale sites are being threatened with court action unless they clean up their act after being found to mislead sports and music fans and even break consumer law.
A year-long probe by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found that consumers are getting a bad deal from several popular ticket-selling sites.
Many fail to tell customers which seats tickets relate to, and even that, with a ticket sold on the secondary market, they may be refused entry to an event.
Following the investigation, the CMA says it has identified widespread concerns about the secondary-ticket market, specifically about the information buyers are given.
It also says it has gathered evidence of several cases in which the law was broken.
The CMA has raised concerns with a number of websites and is ordering them to take action to improve the service they offer.
It is demanding that sites:
- Make it clear if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket that could result in buyers being denied access to an event.
- Let people know who they are buying from – for example, if the seller is a business, and/or and event organiser, so the buyer can benefit from their legal rights.
- Customers need to be told where exactly in a venue they will be seated.
The CMA says it will be acting to address a failure by one website in particular to comply with formal commitments it gave to improve the information given about tickets advertised on its site.
The site has not been named, but an investigation last year by Which? found tickets for sale on Viagogo, StubHub, Get me In and Seatwave were not being listed with their face value or seat number.
Ticketmaster, which owns Seatwave, said: "We have been working closely with the CMA to ensure that we are compliant with consumer law, offering unparalleled transparency to fans when purchasing tickets."
Stub-Hub said: "We remain committed to working with UK regulators to ensure that consumers continue to have access to a safe, secure and transparent ticket resale service. As the CMA investigation is ongoing, we await the final outcome."
Under the Consumer Rights Act, sites in breach of the law can face fines of up to £5,000.
The CMA has now broadened the scope of its original investigation, after it received new information during the probe.
New areas it will look at include:
- Pressure selling – whether claims made about the availability and popularity of tickets create a misleading impression or rush customers into making a buying decision.
- Difficulties customers have in getting their money back under a website’s guarantee.
- Speculative selling – where businesses advertise tickets for sale that they don’t yet own, and so might not be able to supply.
- Concerns about whether some sporting events organisers have sold tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.
The CMA says it will gather and assess evidence on these matters before it decides whether more enforcement action is needed.
CMA Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli, said, “Secondary ticketing websites can offer an important service – by allowing people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute or giving them a chance to re-sell tickets they can no longer use. But our investigation has identified concerns that the law protecting consumers is being broken.
“Thousands of people use these sites and they have a right to know if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door, who they’ve bought their ticket from or exactly what seat at the venue they’re getting for their money.”
He added: “We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them.”
Mr Coscelli said the CMA would use the full range of its powers to get the right outcome for customers – including taking legal action if necessary.
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