One of the largest secondary ticketing websites is to be taken to court by the competitions watchdog after it failed to agree improvements which would protect consumers.
Viagogo did not agree to make the changes which would see significant changes made to information provided about tickets being resold through their platforms following enforcement action by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA). It has also, the watchdog said, failed to comply with a commitment given in 2015.
However, three other ticket resale websites have agreed to comply with the rules. Under agreements made with StubHub, GETMEIN! and Seatwave, the firms will have to tell buyers whether there is a chance they may get turned away at the door of the event they have purchased tickets for - and exactly where their seat will be.
To ensure people can easily find this vital information, the three platforms will make significant changes to the way they gather and display it. They will 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.
Secondary ticketing sites have come under fire in recent months for charing inflated prices for popular gig tickets.
In March, the Proclaimers hit out at touts after tickets for their latest tour, which had a face value of £35.75, were quickly being sold on secondary ticket sites such as Stubhub and Viagogo for up to £175. Trading Standards Scotland is examining the practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director for enforcement, said: “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. So far, viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law. We are prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts.”
Scot Tobias, member of the Fair Ticketing Alliance, which was set up to promote a fair and transparent industry, said: “The Fair Ticketing Alliance is delighted with the swift action of StubHub, GetMeIn and Seatwave to improve transparency for customers following action by the Competition and Markets Authority. Undoubtedly, this will improve the experience of live music and entertainment fans using their sites and is precisely in line with what we have been calling for as brokers.
“It’s disappointing, however, that not all secondary website platforms have followed suit. Our members have stopped listing tickets on sites who do not comply with everything set out by the CMA. We urge those sites to do so immediately."
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services for consumer group Which?, said: “We have repeatedly exposed secondary ticketing websites, including Viagogo, for playing fast and loose with the rules and putting people at risk of getting a raw deal on tickets so we welcome the competition authority taking strong action.
“The agreements reached with some of the biggest players in the market must now lead to much greater transparency, so consumers have a better chance of getting the best tickets for popular events at fair prices.”
Viagogo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.