/ Money, Shopping, Travel & Leisure

Are you unhappy with ticket resale websites?

Have you used a secondary ticketing website like Viagogo or Seatwave? Whether you’ve been reselling or buying tickets, are these sites working for you?

Our Play Fair on Ticket Fees campaign has had big wins in the primary ticketing market – last month seven companies agreed to show all compulsory fees upfront. It’s not before time. Fee transparency is a key and fundamental consumer principle. Indeed, it is the law under the Consumer Protection Regulations and a requirement of the Advertising Standards Authority too.

But what about the secondary ticketing market – now dominated by online operators like Viagogo, Seatwave and Getmein? Even Ebay and Gumtree are involved too. Shouldn’t the same transparency principle apply there?

Reselling gig tickets

The first question is: do you even know the difference between primary and secondary ticketing? In the old pre-internet days, secondary ticketing may have been called ticket touting, but now it seems to have gone a bit more legit. It’s become an online marketplace that puts people in touch with each other to get tickets for, well, frankly anything.

The BBC reported last month that some entertainment lovers were paying over £2,000 for two tickets (with a £20-£35 face value) to see the Donmar Warehouse’s Corialanus. That included an incredible £255 booking fee, a £9.95 shipping charge and £51 VAT.

We’ve debated secondary ticketing before on Which? Convo, and the response was as you’d expect: people have mixed views and experiences.

Perhaps this isn’t surprising as some people are winners from selling any spare tickets at much higher prices than they paid. But others are losers as they buy tickets they could’ve bought from the primary agent at face value, or are sold tickets with restricted view at an inflated price.

All Party Group on Ticket Abuse

Stepping into this murky world is the new All Party Group on Ticket Abuse, which has set up an inquiry. And later this month they want to hear from Which?.

Some MPs want to regulate the market, such as by setting a cap on how much extra a ticket can be re-sold for. Other MPs want big events to have the same ticket restrictions as the London 2012 Olympics to stop ticket touting. The Government meanwhile has made it pretty clear that it does not want to regulate the secondary ticketing market, and instead sees the solution to any problems lying with the industry itself.

So, what do you think? Have you used a secondary ticket website? What was your experience? Did you get what you paid for? Do you think the market should be regulated and, if so, how?


The banks could put a stop to the sharp practices, but refusing to handle credit card payments for these companies. If everyone who has problem with these people challenges the transactions on their credit card bills, the banks will hopefully get so fed up with the time and effort of handling the large numbers it might just focus their attention.

GDS, why should a bank prevent a customer making a payment unless they know the transaction to be fraudulent? Customers choose to go through with these overpriced transactions. Most secondary sellers are not fraudulent, just opportunist, preying on customers being prepared to get something whatever the cost.

E Baker says:
31 July 2018

Malcolm R, You have not seen the facebook groups: Victims of Viagogo and Victim of Viagogo. Also, you are unaware that the Advertising Standards Authority and Competition and Markets Authority have both ruled against Viagogo for its sharp practices in the resale market. You didn’t know that Margot James MP is telling people not to buy tickets from Viagogo ‘because they are the worst!’. I guess you are a ticket tout then.

I think your final sentence is an uncalled for insult, E. Baker.

We know that ticket resellers are sailing close to the wind but are they acting illegally or fraudulently? Which? and correspondents on this Conversation and others on the same topic have been warning against use of certain companies and despairing of the lack of effective regulation of the market for a long time.

Perhaps you yourself have not read all the comments in this and subsequent Conversations on the whole sordid and exploitative business of concert and event ticketing. Banning the purchase of tickets by credit cards is not the answer – the whole operation, from the artistes upwards, needs a thorough shake-up; that is the only way to protect fans.

It would be interesting to check what contribution Margot James made to reforming this business when she was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility for nearly two years.

Elaine Baker says:
31 July 2018

You may consider my response to Malcolm R as a little harsh but my experience of touts after reading posts for many months on on Victims of Viagogo and Victim of Viagogo is that they say the buyer is to blame (as suggested by Malcolm R’s last sentence). I agree with you that it took a while for Margot James to make a contribution to the debate but, thankfully her latest comments are damning. Let’s hope promoters follow Kilimanjaro’s example with Ed Sheeran concerts at Cardiff and London by banning resold tickets bought through Viagogo and thank goodness for campaigners such as Fanfair Alliance and Claire Turnham who have produced refund guidance that, so far, have enabled refunds of over £700,000 from Viagogo.

I think Malcolm was making a fair comment, Elaine. The ticket resellers are preying on the tendency of fans to buy tickets at any price – and for them it works. There have been ample warnings about ticket reselling in the media and advice to concert-goers to use common sense and not pay inflated prices, but needs must when the devil drives and the market is unstoppable without firm rules and enforcement of them.

I agree with you about artistes who ban “resold” tickets obtained through certain companies, but the fact is that the artistes, their agents, the promoters, and the numerous auxiliary and parasitic operators who are part of the food chain have been in it up to their necks and taking advantage of fans for years. Manipulating the prices of tickets up and down in the run up to an event, withholding blocks of seats and then releasing them, operating a false market – this is how the appeal of an event is hyped and the status of artistes is managed.

The soft approach by successive governments has not worked; the market is incapable of reforming itself. Without legislation – which the current government is frightened of introducing – the bad practices will persist and prevail. Ministers can wring their hands and tell people not to buy “resold” tickets [false description] but human nature dictates otherwise and consumers need protection from exploitation.

I do not condone sharp practice Elaine, but people knowingly pay inflated prices for tickets and there have been enough warnings about their methods of operation.

I tend to side with malcolm here. Anyone who chooses to pay an inflated price has agreed to that deal.

Let’s consider the alternative: what’s the worst that can happen if you pass up the chance to go to a gig?

Elaine Baker says:
4 August 2018

Malcolm R, if you believe what you say then I ask you to check out Victims of Viagogo and read some of the stories. It will enlighten you.

Elaine Baker says:
4 August 2018

Derek P, I am sorry to inform you but you are wrong. Go on facebook and look at Victims of Viagogo (over 8,000 members who have been duped). You will find it enlightening.

Elaine Baker,

I am sorry that you do agree with my opinion, as posted above, but as it is only my opinion, it is what I think and therefore cannot be wrong.

I’m also afraid to report that I don’t use FaceBook, so I can’t (or won’t) be going on there to check the sources you’re referring too.

That said, if Viagogo have been misleading folk about the final costs of tickets, e.g. by charging, say, £30 for a £20 ticket, then £70 admin fees, then £100 for express delivery, and so on, then I don’t condone that behavior as a good open and honest business practice.

That said, as in all things both ancient and modern, I’d expect the classical principle of “caveat emptor” to apply. I guess that was malcolm’s point, but he is more than adequate of defending his view, should he wish to do so.

And again, if you don’t want to buy rip off priced tickets, what’s the worst that can happen if you pass up the chance to go to a gig?

The last gig I attended was free, apart from the charity donations I made there and my beer money. It also featured a nice hot summer day – and a three hour train delay getting home afterwards.

https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/secondary-ticketing-websites describes the work being done by the CMA to try to ensure that contract terms etc are fair. viagogo have not complied with requirements but it seems the “unfair terms” law is tricky and may need testing in court.

I am aware of the problems people have had with viagogo and, as I said above, do not condone sharp practice. However this is a problem that has been widely publicised, viagogo being a prime offender, so it would be better if people simply avoided using them. That might make them change their approach.

I would prefer to see only the promoter and accredited agents selling tickets at their face value, and anyone who wished to sell tickets they had purchased, but could not use, could only do so back to the promoter (but with no entitlement to a refund unless they could be resold). It won’t happen.

Don’t buy tickets from Viagogo, minister warns
By Chris Johnston
Business reporter, BBC News
30 May 2018

A minister has told consumers not to use Viagogo, one of the big four secondary ticket resellers.


Pamela says:
31 July 2018

I was happy to pay the hugely inflated price of tickets on Viagogo which appeared to be sold out everywhere else.. as it was a special occasion treat from a terminally ill family member, but when I discovered that the tickets were in someone else’s name …which I was not aware of or expecting and when the venue told me they could do ID checks and deny entry that was when Viagogo failed me as they did not provide ID from the original seller. I received no support from them other than the suggestion to resell the tickets which would place someone else is exactly the same vulnerable situation.

As the concert was abroad I would be taking a huge and expensive risk in trying to use the tickets. Their customer support is a joke, 20+ emails with generic responses which prove that they never actually read the enquiries but probably have robots replying to messages, and its impossible to speak to anyone if your concert is not within 72 hours. Absolutely no ability or desire to take individual customers situations into account which is what true customer service is about.

Viagogo has, for too long, been using deceptive online selling to dupe and deceive those buying tickets online. I am a moderator on two Facebook groups dedicated to helping Victims of Viagogo with thousands of members all reporting how they have been defrauded by Viagogo. Each and every day, the dreadful misery suffered at the hands of Viagogo is exposed by yet more victims.

The banks seem to be very inconsistent in helping customers who have unwittingly become caught in Viagogo’s less than honest business and are not adhering the the Financial Conduct Authority rules in dealing with customers. Not finding assistance from the bank forthcoming is not good enough; the banks are effectively supporting Visgogo in flouting Consumer Rights Law and ASA and CMA rulings.