Ticket resale sites forced to clean-up act amid further investigation

28 November 2017

Secondary ticket websites have been told to comply with the law or face legal action.

As part of an investigation into the market launched in June 2016, the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has now announced that resale sites must:

  • Make it clear if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket that could result in buyers being denied access to an event.
  • Ensure people know who they are buying from – for example if the seller is a business and/or an event organiser.
  • Tell customers where exactly in a venue they will be seated.

The move comes after the CMA found evidence, which it “considers reveals breaches of the law”, although it won’t say which websites are involved.

‘The law protecting consumers is being broken’

Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, says: “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.

“We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them. We will use the full range of our powers to get the right outcome for these sites’ customers – including taking action through the courts if needed.”

Further investigation launched into pressure selling

The CMA has also broadened the scope of its original investigation to include some additional issues, which will now be considered before the regulator decides whether further enforcement action is required.

These issues are as follows:

  • Pressure selling – whether claims made about the availability and popularity of tickets creates a misleading impression or rushes customers into making a buying decision.
  • Difficulties for customers in getting their money back under a website’s guarantee.
  • Speculative selling – where businesses advertise tickets for sale that they do not yet own and therefore may not be able to supply.
  • Concerns about whether the organisers of some sporting events have sold tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.

As many as a quarter of tickets to popular music, theatre, and sporting events have ended up on secondary ticketing websites, according to an investigation by Which?. It found that many appear on secondary websites as soon as the event goes on sale, leaving consumers having to pay inflated costs.

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