/ 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?


If you think of concerts and other major events staged by promoters as business events, they will want to ensure they are a commercial success – i.e. maks as much money as possible. They will want to sell as many tickets as they can and if this means secondary companies buy them (and pay for them) then they guarantee an income. Those secondary companies then carry the risk of reselling the tickets.
I’m not sure about the concept of a “fan”, presumed to be entitled to special treatment. I presume belonging to a fan club and regularly attending events has its benefits (like football seaon tickets or belonging to a theatre club) but otherwise are they not like any other punters?

james kenny says:
20 February 2014

Thanks to Viagogo for clearing that up
“Any questions about why concerts sell out so quickly and to who should be directed to the organisations that sell the tickets in the first place”
So categorically no connection whatsoever with any original sellers including ticketmaster eventim live nation or any other?

karen young says:
20 February 2014

Does ticketmaster have shares in viagogo, get me in or seatwave? There’s a question for you!

Ross says:
4 June 2014

No ticketmaster owns Getmein so worse

karen young says:
20 February 2014

Ah now i see viagogo need not worry about uk legislation as they have moved to switzerland to avoid it, apparently after a tv programm gave an insite into exactly how they operate!!! Wish i had seen it…….and its getmein that is part of ticketmaster……big big monopoly.

James Kenny says:
21 February 2014

We seem to have hit a nerve Karen, the silence speaks volumes

Ross says:
4 June 2014

Viagogo only pretended to move and quietly put uk company under.
Their Switzerland address is only a po box address that actually diverts mail back to their main hq in … U guessed it… London
Over 100 staff in this office
Sherbourne House, 2nd floor
119-121 Cannon St
Zero in Switzerland so why does all paperwork say Switzerland
Answer that Viagogo

Gig Lover says:
30 March 2014

I was one of the unlucky fans in the 15 minute rush for tickets to see Kate Bush on her first tour for more than 30 years. Although the venue has determined that the lead ticket holder should provide ID – tickets were soon on sale on secondary sites for up to 10 times the price. I have no issue with genuine fans selling their tickets if they unexpectedly can’t attend a gig – but when tickets go on sale almost immediately which are clearly being sold by touts with no interest in the gig and often with collusion from the original vendors it is time something is done. What is happening to the All Party Group review on ticket abuse?

joey2307 says:
28 April 2014

Recently purchased Ticketmaster Dancing on Ice Tour tickets.
All looked good at first, total price shown, with a comment box showing how that price was broken down.
Got to checkout and then still had a fulfilment fee.

I think there must be a hole in the market for someone to have a whole different system – paperless ticketing or something – and blow all these pre-historic con artists into oblivion. Or the major supermarkets get on board and run it as a loss leader.

Ross says:
4 June 2014

As an ex trader, Viagogo were illegally selling tickets which has cost me in excess of £400k they are under serious police investigation. They claim to be overseas to get away from all problems the market needs to be more transparent they trade from an office in London Sherbourne House, 2nd floor
119-121 Cannon St
EC4N 5AT even though they put the uk company under.
They use many different tactics of illegal trading.
I have nothing against the secondary market but make more transparent.
They sell millions of pounds worth of tickets next to a year in advance then if they refund they make packet on interest look at recent reviews for 1d and boxing. Fans are made to feel “lucky” they got refund as covered by “guarantee” no extra for travel, hotels, phonecalls or stress is ever refunded. Also they only admit defeat after event as have street touts trying to buy on day

Jenny Ellwood says:
31 October 2014

I just bought tickets to see Placebo at the O2 Academy in Birmingham from Ticketweb (O2’s seller) – where a single ticket cost £29.50 +fee £3.68 +delivery £2.50. I think these fees etc are reasonable.

The same ticket from Seatwave (who had a whole range of ticket prices for the same single price standard ticket) is £143 +fee £26.99 +delivery £9.99. They’re outrageous prices & fees! The tickets only went on sale today; there are plenty of them around.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Gig Lover says:
1 November 2014

The recent series of Kate Bush concerts in London showed that people who are only interested in a quick profit can be stopped. For this gig tickets were limited to 4 per person and the lead ticket holder had to show photo id at the venue. There were virtually no secondary tickets available.

It is an absolute scandal that tickets are bought just for making money thereby ripping off genuine fans.
I support the resellers for the odd occasion when you can’t use your tickets – but the wholesale buying and selling should be outlawed – the promoters and venues seem to turn a blind eye to it or even support it – they need to put their houses in order

Charlie says:
8 November 2014

If I buy a car at auction and re sell for £2000 more on a forecourt – I am a car dealer

If I buy a painting at a boot fair and sell to an antique dealer – I am an art dealer

If I buy a ticket of ticketmaster pay there 20% booking,processing and facility levy ?? and resell on Seatwave or Viagogo – I am a ticket tout ??

Nobody forces any of the above purchases all are met by supply and demand,recently I have seen numerous below face value tickets on these sites so its not all win,win maybe likewise for the car and art dealer -whats the difference ?

Yes, if you consider your other two examples to be “dealers”, then you are a ticket dealer, and I would suggest Inland Revenue would also consider you to be in business, buying and selling for profit. It would interesting to see how many ticket touts declare their income to the Inland Revenue.

However, I totally agree with your point about supply and demand; so long as everything is transparent and the tickets turn up and are legit then I have no problems. If the Government want to make “one-off” events subject to resale restrictions then they should get on and do it.

AMusicFan says:
10 November 2014

I have recently had one of the worst buying experiences of my life with GetMeIn. Despite paying almost four times the face value price for concert tickets – including the extortionate ‘processing’ and delivery fees – I was soon to discover their so-called guarantee is absolutely worthless. With less than a week to go, the tickets had still not been dispatched. I then wasted a small fortune, and literally hours of my time on hold on the phone, trying to get through to this immoral bunch who fed me one c**k-and-bull story after another about how and when my tickets were going to arrive. They didn’t. From the reviews I read on the Internet, this is very commonplace. They then blame the ticket seller; so much for their promise to source alternative, valid tickets if the seller reneges. Meanwhile they are happily making interest on the cash you’ve handed over. This appalling lack of care for the customer is all in addition, of course, to the other issues raised above. The thoroughly corrupt secondary market needs to be outlawed. The small minority of people who actually have legitimate reasons for reselling tickets should only be able to resell them at face value, through the venue, putting an end to this greed-fuelled industry which benefits neither artists nor fans.

AMusicFan says:
10 November 2014

Castle, the difference here is that the touts – or ‘secondary dealers’ create an entirely FALSE supply and demand scenario by depriving genuine fans of the opportunity to buy tickets first-hand. They falsely limit supply, driving demand up. Completely corrupt.

I thought “Charlie” was referring to a private individual buying a ticket from the promoter/Ticketmaster and reselling it to the tout/secondary dealer; which is a different scenario.

AMusicFan says:
10 November 2014

If a private buyer buys tickets they have no intention of using, merely to sell them on at vastly inflated prices, that makes them no different from a tout. Allowing them to sell on only at face value would put a stop to the artificially-inflated market, and the greed.

There is one scenario which could give rise to problems and that’s when a concert or event is cancelled. Would the organiser/promoter simply give face value refunds to the credit cards of the original purchaser; could be an interesting legal point!

AMusicFan says:
10 November 2014

I’m sure this has arisen before, e.g. with Michael Jackson tickets. As I recall, what happened then is that the secondary merchants agreed to refund secondary buyers, but only after pressure, and not without hassle. And perhaps only because it was so high-profile and involved so many people.

James Kenny says:
10 November 2014

There appears to be no regulation of this service, much like estate agencies they are unchallenged so corruption is rife. It looks like it’s down to Which to launch a campaign for fairness and then for us to point our MP’s towards it. We could ask Kate Bush to push..

The whole situation is completely wrong. False demand is created by the tickets being bought by ‘touts’ so the secondary ticket companies cant really hide behind ‘market price’ and supply and demand arguments to justify their unethical business practice, especially when they are either part owned or supported by the original ticket agencies. It is completely transparent that a ticket on sale minutes after the event has gone public is not a genuine fan reselling.
Artists and promoters should insist that all tickets are e tickets which require ID to get in. If they are resold then this can be done in conjunction with the original company that issued the tickets, and the seller pays a fee to change the name on the ticket. If you book a holiday and cant go, you dont just get all your money back, there are fees. This should be the same situation which then encourages only people who want to go in the first place to buy the ticket.

Spewie says:
4 December 2014

Ticket resale sites should only let people sell tickets at face value. Circumstances dictate that sometimes people can’t make an event and then have to sell them on, but when you see tickets on “Getmein”, for example, within 5 minutes of a pre-sale then obvious it’s w***** ripping people off and stopping genuine fans from attending events.

Owen says:
9 December 2014

I attend one gig a year – that’s all I can afford. I recently purchased two GA (General Admission) tickets from Viagogo, for Slipknot in January for £78 each. The same GA tickets are now available at £45 each. Viagogo refused a refund with no explanation.

Basically it’s tough luck when we are ripped off by them!

Owen says:
9 December 2014

Getmein are the worst at ripping customers off. There’s seem to be no regulations in place to stop them!

James Kenny says:
9 December 2014


Tweet this MP who is heading an action group
Tags, Mike Weatherley MP, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music, APPG, Ticket touting

Just to add to the shame, presumably based in Switzerland means Ticketmaster Viagogo GetMein are not paying any UK Corporation Tax on their huge profits.

This whole resale scam is just like another compulsory tax to music lovers

AMusicFan says:
9 December 2014

Well said, James. Completely agree.

I have some difficulty with this. On the one hand the practise deprives many people of the ability to see live events. On the other hand these live events are commerecial ventures by the promoters who clearly are out to make as much money as possible. So if the venue can sell all their tickets, they meet that objective.
A “public” event that we subsidise, like the Olympics, should have tickets sold only at face value – although how you prevent speculation I don’t know. But a private business event is simply subject to supply and demand – if enough people are prepared to pay extortionate prices for tickets then someone out there will exploit it.
Perhaps “fans” could belong to “fan clubs” who receive a block allocation of standard price tickets for regular subscribers?

karen young says:
9 December 2014

Ticket touting outside venues is I think illegal and all we have done in going over to on-line selling of tickets is to make the practice legal and easy to do. In fact these big companies are putting two fingers up at the people the law and the tax man. Simply make it illegal to sell ANY tickets for more than face value. Problem solved!

karen, in a market economy how do you (and why should you) prevent items in demand and in limited supply being traded at above face value? I- phones for example. I do not think we have any rights to impose restrictions on private business for non-essential commodities. I am not condoning the practise, simply looking at the practicalities and questioning why we should have a right to expect any different. We could be asking the promoters and the performers to ensure tickets are not sold in bulk, but how do they know they are not to bona fide customers, such as fan clubs, theatre clubs and such like?

I support Karen. Why do we have to accept that a ‘market economy’? I have had enough of greed and exploitation. We certainly do need to take action to stop profiteering.

Perhaps fan clubs should be allowed to get an allocation of tickets below face value providing that they don’t exploit the fans.