/ 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!!

karen young says:
24 January 2015

So here we are now ….Ticketmaster just buys up all of Seatwave….and it already owns Get me in. The government votes to do nothing about this unscrupulous monopoly….say no more!
I have my own ideas of where the dirty money ends up……so when you all talk about ‘market forces’ just wake up and smell the coffee…..there is only one force in this market. Ticketmaster should be called ‘touts unlimited’

karen young says:
24 January 2015

And of course Live Nation owns Ticketmaster!

Shazza says:
25 February 2015

I would like to say that secondary market provides a safer option for buying tickets . And so
what if someone is selling there tickets at the front of the venue at a inflated price that should there
choice as its your choice if you want to pay it ..Going back to my first point i would rather my daughter
pay a inflated price and be able to go to the concert rather than her sat in the house while all her friends are going ..This country dosent tell you how much you can sell your house , car , caravan or anything else for so why tickets people have the choice wether or not to pay a inflated price nobody
is holding a gun to there heads . Its all about freedom of choice which this country is slowly taking
away from us . So don’t be surprised the people who agree with this in 10 years time that the government say you can’t sell your house caravan car for more than you payed for it see how that feels then .. Final word your choice to buy , your choice to sell….

Shazza says:
25 February 2015

And as a follow up to post my son is a british soldier in the welsh guards .. Should we not be more worried about our own soldiers getting beheaded on our streets than someone making a profit on a ticket WTF is this country coming to .. Our priorities are all wrong ..

PeterM says:
26 February 2015

To be frank, I’d prefer it if she and her friends all didn’t go, but complained to the promoters if they came across rip-off priced tickets being available. As for “no one holds a gun to their head”, I think that’s an inflammatory statement, perhaps a result of other concerns in your life, ie your son.

No, I doubt we are “more” worried about ridiculous prices for tickets for sports and music events than the risk to any one of us in the UK, but for the most part, we can do something about the rip-off prices, and we have to hope that the security services learn of any intentions of the latter type concern. In reality, and looking objectively, what one of these is more likely – someone being ripped off for a ticket (or like me, deciding to simply boycott the majority of events as they are a luxury I cannot afford and will not pay silly prices), or the (in my view, one in several million) chance of being attacked in the way you describe.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not dismissing the possibility nor making light of it, but on the plain mathematics and probability, ticket prices are likely to affect the majority and a beheading (or even assault) will be millions of times less likely.

Violenece of any type is a concern, but you have to consider the day-to-day situation of the majority, not the lower possibilities of threat to minorities, and the extremely unlikely situation you brought up in your late evening post..

I too was in the forces but I think that is not the issue here. It is immoral that Ticketmaster makes a lot of commission by not only allowing touts on their secondary sites such as get me in or seat wave, but actively encourage it. We have different priorities in our country. I have full respect for your son but at the same time I have total disrespect for ticket companies that allow this rip off to go on. If somebody genuinely cannot attend after buying a ticket, then they should be able to offer it for sale to someone else at face value. It should be made illegal for secondary sites to sell them for anything more.

Steven says:
8 December 2016

Spot on mate. I’ve actually ppl message me to buy good seats for them rather than not see the act. How many these cries don’t want to rise for 9am then expect good seats when they get the notion

Hi all, an update on secondary ticketing websites. The reselling sites will be making some changes: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/secondary-ticketing-cma-stubhub-viagogo-seatwave-getmein/

Miski says:
16 March 2015

It’s time the ticket selling sites are fully regulated to stop the selling concert tickets at many times the face value. I recently tried to get tickets for Dave Gilmour at the Royal Albert Hall only to find there were no tickets available at the RAH even though the website had only been open two minutes.
face value for Dave Gilmour tickets were advertised £75-100.
When I checked with Ticketmaster and Viagogo for Dave Gilmour, the ticket prices had been hyped by these unscrupulous sellers to £400-600 each
Like other customer service industries ticket selling companies / promoters need to be fully regulated and made answerable to a regulator to prevent overpricing and future profiteering…

Neil says:
5 May 2015

What a ridiculous conversation, I buy tickets, they become my property, so I can sell them for whatever I choose.
Because you were too slow to buy tickets and I got there first does not mean it is wrong.
Welcome to the world of supply and demand.

The key issue is probbaly not what individuals do with tickets they wish to sell on, but the industrial scale of the reselling that takes place immediately after the tickets have been released for sale. It is clear that other companies, sometimes from the same stable, have acquired a pre-emption right in a closed market [no doubt for payment] for large quantities of tickets which they in turn put on sale in the open market at inflated prices. To some extent this is commercial hedging by the primary ticket seller [it spreads the risk if the event goes pear-shaped for some reason] but the premiums payable for the tickets on secondary release are exorbitant, exploitative, and extortionate. Between the artistes and their fans there are a huge number of parasitic intermediaries and I don’t think any of them have clean hands since it pays them to keep the ball rolling.

For an update, see the Conversation called “Is buying second-hand tickets about to get better?” [6 March 2015] – for some reason it doesn’t appear in the index under “ticket reselling” and has only attracted one comment.

I should add that the latest Conversation I referred to above can be accessed quickly by clicking on the “festival tickets” tag shown at the foot of the intro to this Conversation.

Thanks for identifying that John, we’ll look into it. As John highlighted, you can read an update here:


It would be a real help to have links to newer Conversations on similar topics added at the end of of the introduction. It’s great to flag up the new discussions as you both have done, but these comments can soon get lost, particularly with Convos that run for many pages.

I agree – I think that might already be in the pipeline of possible improvements to this website. In the meantim, I don’t mind doing a little bit of cross-referencing but it would be much better done systematically. Perhaps the authors of the topics don’t have any responsibility for continuity. Andrew and Patrick are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Roachy says:
22 July 2015

Dear God will someone please do something about Seatwave they disgust me, we recently paid 3 times the value of our tickets for the Manchester Arena its a rip off didn’t get to know the true value of our tickets until they arrived a few days before the show, for what we paid we found we could have been introduced to the artist !!!

I wanted tickets to see Muse in Manchester. The day they went on general sale, they had all been sold. Then a miracle, another date had been added the same morning. Tried to get tickets from Ticketmaster, but couldn’t get them online. Tried the telephone “hotline” but couldn’t get through. It seemed as if they were selling like hot cakes, and I would miss out. After an hour or so, Ticketmaster re-directed me to Get me in website, which is an off shoot of Ticketmaster. I found that the prices were very expensive, but I was desperate so ended up buying from them. I paid a total of £212 for two tickets. When they arrived I found that the face value of each ticket was £45, £90 for the two. I am angry that Ticketmaster have blatantly ripped me off. It seems to me that they had no intention of selling me them at “normal” price. The whole thing is a stitch up to double the face value of the tickets. Appalling!! Ticketmaster should not be allowed to get away with it.

What annoys me is the fact that tickets are already on ticktmasters own resale site before they are even officially avialable to the public. How do they get away with that? They are either just placing them at the hihher price on their partner eite or knowingly selling tickets to people who immediately resell them at a higher cost. Real fans stand no chance of getting tickets

I love Pet shop Boys and when there was a chance to see them at The Royal Opera house I took it.
I phone the Royal Opera house directly but told to go to viagogo were tickets had almost sold out.
I paid £75 per ticket and £25 in other charges, totalling £100 per ticket. Then I was informed on the website that a minimum of 2 tickets could be bought .
when I received my tickets I saw the face value was just £25.
This has left me really annoyed and frustrated as I, and other fans, have been given no option but to buy tickets via this rip off organisation.
Nothing more than criminal.

We have just been charged 22.5% (£57) fees on ATP final tickets. My husband was not aware he was on a resales site and also did not see the fees which are tucked away at the bottom of the screen passed where you enter all information. To add to this you are on a count down timer so you are faced with urgency taking away the chance to properly read the screen. Complete con. We emailed within minutes of purchasing the tickets asking to cancel due to misleading nature of the sale.

I think it is a disgrace that sites such as ‘Get me In’ which are associated with Ticketmaster as allowing tickets to be sold at vastly inflated prices. Surely there must be a way of controlling this, so that tickets can only be sold for face value plus initial fees. It bloody annoys me that concerts can sell out within minutes and then immediately be available for re-sale at double the price or more. Ticket Touts should be stopped whenever possible, but at the moment the web just seems to be making it easier for those scumbags to make huge profits. Come on Ticketmaster surely you must have some control over this, after all you are issue the tickets in the first place so know exactly what each seat costs.

Gary says:
5 March 2017

Viagogo just sold me tickets worth £39 for £110 pounds each. I almost didn’t put pay the extortionate added fees, but they only tell you the charges at the moment of buying them, while also telling you they are the last tickets available. I have now discovered that this is a lie (they say exactly the same thing weeks later). The reason tickets are sold out at venues is because of scum like this company. So sad to see people have been being ripped off by Viagogo for years on end. I’ll never touch these vermin again. No wonder they have no customer support. They’ve must get constant hate mail.

One answer to these resale sites is for people to stop buying from them. Unfortunately they seem to prosper because many people appear prepared to spend large sums of money on entertainment.

Heidi says:
28 March 2017

This is an interesting read and some really good points have been raised. It can be seen that ticket touting is still a problem within the Events industry today. Many victims are still losing out due to these secondary seller websites selling inflated tickets.

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our Community Guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Tim Sharpe says:
5 May 2017

I’ve just been ripped off by Viagogo. Huge admin fees which aren’t added until after you’ve provided payment details. They don’t respond to emails or allow you to cancel (even though tickets have not been provided).

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I recently tried to purchase tickets for a BBC sponsored proms concert ( I’m on a BBC mailing list and was notified by the BBC). Anyway got on to the Royal Albert Hall website only to find no tickets available, got on to the viagogo website and yes they had tickets available. According to the website and that tickets were selling very quickly and only a few where available, so grudgingly I decided to buy at very inflated prices. I went through the system and then came the extras booking fee,delivery charges…. I couldn’t find out the original face value price of the ticket….anyway decided not to purchase tickets.Out of desperation thought I would try phoning R.A.H. box office direct success!! I have kept tabs on viagogo and yes 2 weeks down the line their website is still peddling the same story ..heavy demand for tickets…..

I tried to buy tickets for First Aid Kit on the internet. Had never heard of viagogo, didn’t know it was a resale site, thought I was just buying tickets as normal. The site told me that they were the last 2 tickets and other people were trying to buy them – this caused me to rush. It looked to me as though the 2 tickets cost £66 for the pair. By the time I got to the end they were £186.50 and it didn’t tell me this until there was no way back. They are an absolute rip off and should be banned from trading – can Which expose them for what they are please