Three major secondary ticketing sites have pledged to implement changes following enforcement action by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave have formally committed to ensuring better information will be provided about tickets being resold through their platforms. They had already made changes during the course of the CMA’s investigation.
However, the CMA singled out Viagogo for not currently having agreed to make the required changes. The offices of Viagogo and StubHub were reportedly raided by the CMA last year.
The company also has a historic failure to fully comply with a formal commitment given to the CMA in 2015 to make its customers aware of the face value of tickets.
“So far Viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law,” said Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director for enforcement. “We are prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts.”
The three other sites have agreed to make clear whether there is a risk a customer might be turned away at the door; which seat in the venue the customer will get; and who is selling the ticket, so customers can benefit from enhanced legal rights when buying from a business
StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave will make significant changes to the way they gather and display key information. They have agreed to make it mandatory for sellers to provide this information when listing a ticket, routinely carry out their own checks on primary ticket sellers’ websites about resale restrictions, and act promptly if event organisers tell them information is missing.
The CMA also raised the same concerns with Viagogo, along with other issues, including making statements about the availability and popularity of tickets on its website which had the potential to mislead consumers or rush them into making a buying decision; problems encountered by its customers in getting their money back under the guarantee; and businesses advertising tickets for sale on the website that they do not yet own and therefore may not be able to supply.
The CMA has notified Viagogo it will take action through the courts, unless they promptly commit to addressing its concerns.
Grenfell added: “Thousands of people use secondary ticketing websites to buy tickets for concerts, theatre and other events. So it’s crucial they are told what they are buying, from whom they are buying it, and whether their ticket might not actually get them into the event.
“We welcome the changes already made and new commitments we’ve been given by StubHub, Seatwave and GetMeIn! to improve the information on offer, so that people can better judge whether they’re getting a good deal.
“But 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.”
Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, said: “Today’s CMA announcement is vindication for the FanFair Alliance campaign to overhaul the online ticket resale market. UK audiences have been taken for a ride for too long by the biggest secondary platforms and the dedicated touts who fuel their business.
“They will now be forced to dramatically change their practices and provide proper transparency. This cannot come soon enough.
“It is disappointing, though hardly unexpected, that Viagogo continue to flout the law and mislead the British public. If they fail to follow their competitors and make similar commitments, then we expect to see prosecution for non-compliance at the earliest opportunity.”
The CMA continues to work with partner agencies and enforcers – including the Advertising Standards Authority, National Trading Standards and Trading Standards Scotland – to protect consumers in the secondary ticketing market.
The action by the CMA coincides with a new law being introduced in Parliament this week to ban touts from using bots to bulk buy more tickets than allowed by event organisers.