Four major firms have been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for failing to be “upfront and clear” over extra fees and charges that are added on at the end of the booking process.
It has found against Stubhub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In, which dominate the “resale market” in the UK, for making the total ticket price, VAT-inclusive booking fee and delivery fee clear at the start of the booking process.
The ASA has announced its findings weeks after the UK government announced plans to clamp down on concert ticket touts.
New measures due to come into force in April would see anyone resale sites will have to provide detailed information on tickets, including their original face value, the location of seats and whether there are any restrictions over their use.
Last month Google ordered secondary ticketing sites to be more transparent about the tickets they are selling. They must prominently show they are a secondary market on their own website and that tickets may be above face value.
It is thought as many as a quarter of tickets for major concerts and events at the venues such as the Hydro arena and Hampden Park in Glasgow up end on the so-called “secondary ticketing” sites.
Under current legislation there is nothing to stop touts charging over the odds for the tickets they are selling via such sites, which take a cut of the profits from a sale.
The ASA’s ruling means resale sites will have to ensure all ticket prices are “transparent” by including information about additional fees at the start of the ticket-buying process.
Chief executive Guy Parker said: “Many of us will recognise the frustration of being happy with the initial price of tickets on a secondary website only to be stung by hefty fees when we come to book. The message is simple and it’s clear - the price you see at the start should be the price you pay at the end.”
A spokesman for the campaign group FanFair Alliance said: “We’re aware of thousands of UK music fans who feel ripped off by so-called secondary ticketing platforms.
“Almost without fail, these victims share three recurring complaints - they were directed via Google advertising towards these sites, they thought they were purchasing from an authorised seller and they were misled on pricing.
“While we welcome this and hope it goes some way to addressing this latter issue, what’s absolutely crucial now is enforcement. Without proper sanctions, we fear much-needed reforms will not be implemented and the public will continue to be duped.”
A Stubhub spokesman said: “We supports any measures which make ticket buying easier, more convenient and more transparent for fans.”
A spokesman for Ticketmaster, which owns which owns Seatwave and Get Me In, said: “We welcome all efforts that bring transparency and ease to fans buying tickets.”