/ 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?

James Kenny says:
9 December 2014

A promoter say live nation, agrees to stage 10 concerts in the uk and the artiste will be paid £50m. Tickets are priced to return £80m total after expenses. And return 30m profit
They then claim all tickets are sold within 5 minutes and same tickets appear on their own sites again with a 100% mark up. Result… Artiste still gets £50m livenation get me in viagogo ticketmaster whoever they call themselves (venture capitalists) rake in £90m plus.
see also al capone


Also blame the people who pay extortionate prices to the resellers. If they did not buy the tickets the market would collapse.


“Why do we have to accept that a ‘market economy’.” It is the world we live in. I am not coming down on either side, but simply pointing out what I think are facts. Change it by all means, but we cannot ignore an existing situation where those with the most money get the pick of what is on offer. Try the ludicrous prices paid for original works of art as an extreme example.


At one time, medical treatment could be more dangerous than illness but we found a better way rather than accepting the status quo. I think we should run our country for the benefit of people rather than to support greed.

Why cannot we legislate to ban tickets being resold by companies at high prices?


Then you raise the question of how do you set a fair price in the first place. In popular music and football events for example you could argue we pay an extortionate amount of money to the performers and, as a consequence, price many people out of seeing a live event. Is this exploitation by the participants and promoters? I think it is. Touts add another layer of exploitation. It has been said that the value of anything is what people are prepared to pay for it. It happens everywhere – lawyers, CEOs, entertainers, artists – just where do you attempt to draw a line in this rocky road?


I agree that we live in a world of exploitation, but in the case of resale of tickets we could cap resale price by legislation. That would not prevent individuals selling tickets at an inflated price but it would get rid of those organisations that are exploiting the public by buying tickets in bulk and selling them on at high prices. We would not be having this discussion if there was not considerable public concern.

I have been to many concerts in my time but cannot recall paying more than the ticket price plus the handling charge to have tickets posted. Needless to say I have not been to a pop concert or a sports fixture. 🙂

PeterM says:
26 February 2015

Malcolm R wrote “you could argue we pay an extortionate amount of money to the performers and, as a consequence, price many people out of seeing a live event.”

It’s not just attending a live event, but as someone on radio today pointed out, the rights to broadcast events (particularly sport) have been a massive auction where some media concern (Sky, BBC, BT, ITV) may pay a massive price, and thus restrict (in the case of Sky/ BT) who can watch. It’s probably more to do with the promoters than the individual sports men/women, though for music events, it may be the artists, because they are having so much sliced off their income by middle men, record labels, etc, that they now find they must play live to earn income without the hangers-on taking a cut.

karen young says:
9 December 2014

Yes we really don’t need to debate the in and outs of big business, the tickets have a face value calculated to cover the costs and the profit needed by the organiser of the event and the artist so why oh why are we letting this ticket touting go on?
Getting tickets to see 1D was a joke, they were sold out within seconds and on sale for 4 times the face value within minutes!
So easy to solve this just make re sale at face value a law and the only people hurt will be the ticket touts or as they are called now getmein and viagogo etc and the sad thing is they don’t even try to hide that they are daylight robbers as somehow some people seem to try and justify this because its big business, but really, what’s the difference between them and the dodgy people who used to stand outside touting the tickets and laughing all the way to the bank! Except that they do it all from a cosy office!!