News April 27, 2018

UK secondary ticket sellers promise greater transparency, form association to address consumer crisis

Staff Writer
UK secondary ticket sellers promise greater transparency, form association to address consumer crisis

Feeling the wrath of government legislation and public opinion of “unscrupulous behaviour” against consumers, the UK’s secondary ticket sellers are moving to shift the balance.

The biggest secondary ticketing platforms – Viagogo, Ticketmaster’s Get Me In and Seatwave!, and the eBay-owned StubHub– are feeling the greatest heat.

Recently, the Advertising Standards Authority banned them from advertising “misleading” ticket prices.

They’ve also been accused of working quietly in cahoots with scalpers and their bot systems.

Now the three of these four sites, with the exception of Viagogo, vow they will provide clearer information about tickets that they sell.

This is what the live sector and consumer groups have demanded of them in recent years.

Tickets must now provide information such as the location of the seat and the name of the seller.

They must also include the warning that their tickets could be invalidated by the event’s promoter and they could be turned away at the gates.

The sites will also do routine sweeps on primary ticket sellers to make sure that their tickets are listing this information, and will alert government agency the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA if they find this is not the case).

The CMA’s executive director for enforcement Michael Grenfell said, “All secondary ticketing websites must play by the rules and treat their customers fairly if anything goes wrong.

“We take failure to comply with consumer protection law very seriously.”

Grenfell lashed out at Switzerland-based Viagogo which has basically thumbed its nose at UK government and consumer rights officials.

“So far Viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law.”

He added that the CMA was “prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts.”

The live sector has long been pushing for court action against Viagogo.

Wayne Grierson, Stubhub’s general manager for northern EMEA, commented: “StubHub has worked closely with the CMA and we welcome the announcement.

“This means that fans will have even more information about the tickets they are buying.

“As our industry evolves, this is an important step in restoring consumer confidence.

“Our vision is that the wider industry will embrace transparency in the interest of fans.”

Also concerned about consumer confidence and transparency are a group of smaller brokers who have formed an association called Fair Ticketing Alliance.

It wants to improve the sector’s reputation and create a “fair, trustworthy and flexible ticket market that works for all live entertainment fans” but also protects secondary sellers.

It wants the government to tighten current legislation which will allow it to resell tickets.

It says that the image that secondary ticketing market has of being exploitive of consumers is unfair, and hits the small businesses in the sector

Fair Ticketing Alliance chair Stephen Lee who set up Gigtix Ltd insists that “responsible commercial operators should be free to resell tickets, like consumers, without unfair restrictions.

“In return, operators should be properly licensed and comply with the highest standards of ethics.

“For too long, the secondary ticketing industry has been in the shadows, suffering from a poor reputation, afraid to defend itself.

“We aim to change that.

“We’re all extremely passionate and have a deep knowledge of the entertainment areas in which we specialize, which enables us to provide a valuable and necessary service to other live entertainment fans.

“We just want to do the right thing within the law.”

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