Government involvement in the secondary ticketing market takes another turn today (December 19) as The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launches an investigation into suspected breaches of consumer protection law.
Back in June the CMA opened a compliance review into Viagogo, Seatwave, Get Me In! and StubHub, aiming to assess whether the sites are providing adequate information to customers.
The body concluded that one website was not fully complying with enquiries and is acting in order to ensure it meets them fully. The other three sites have changed practices in line with CMA findings.
The review revealed wider concerns across the sector, prompting today’s action. The new investigation will see the CMA consider whether, in its view, both the businesses selling tickets and the secondary ticketing platforms advertising them are failing to provide the full range of information in breach of the law and, if so, take enforcement action.
Today’s announcement specifies that the CMA will look at whether information on sellers’ identities, possible connections with event, organisers or platform; restrictions on the use of resold tickets that could result in denial of access; and where a seat is located in the venue.
Additionally, the CMA is working with event organisers to help ensure that any terms used to restrict the resale of their tickets are fair for consumers.
Andrea Coscelli, the CMA’s acting chief executive, said: “A night out at a concert or a trip to a big match is something that millions of people look forward to. So it’s important they know who they are buying from and whether there are any restrictions that could stop them using the ticket.
“We have heard concerns about a lack of transparency over who is buying up tickets from the primary market. We also think that it is essential that those consumers who buy tickets from the secondary market are made aware if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door.
“We have therefore decided to open a sector-wide investigation to ensure that customers are made aware of important information that they are legally entitled to. If we find breaches of consumer law, we will take enforcement action.”
Vickie Sheriff, director of campaigns and communications at Which?, welcomed the news, commenting: "On numerous occasions we have found tickets being sold unlawfully, so we welcome the competition authorities taking action to tackle this. No one can know the real value of their ticket if they haven't been given the information on face value, where the seat is located and any restrictions. Tickets also shouldn’t be fed straight into secondary sites at consumers’ expense. We expect the CMA to take strong action against ticketing sites and businesses not playing by the rules."