The Competition and Markets Authority is working to ensure fans who buy secondary tickets aren’t left out in the cold. But event organisers have a role to play too – and the regulator wants to hear your views on what that role should be…
On 19 September, around 200 fans were reportedly refused entry to a Foo Fighters’ gig at London’s O2. People who had bought tickets from resale sites were apparently denied access when they couldn’t produce ID that matched the name of the original ticket buyer.
Innocent people like these Foo Fighters fans are being left out in the cold – literally – as artists, promoters and venues act to try and tackle so-called ticket touts.
Action against secondary ticketing sites
Here at the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), we are concerned about this issue – and others in the secondary tickets sector – and we’re keen to hear from Which? readers on how we’re approaching it.
Last week, we announced that we will be taking enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites, with the aim of ensuring that important information about tickets and their sellers is provided to buyers. We are also working with National Trading Standards and Trading Standards Scotland, who are looking at the practices of businesses that buy tickets in bulk and sell them through secondary ticketing sites.
A key focus of the CMA’s work is to ensure that secondary ticket buyers on these sites are told about resale restrictions which could lead to them being turned away at the door.
Ticket resale that’s fair for all
Thousands of people in the UK use secondary ticket websites. They can offer an important service by allowing people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute or re-sell tickets they can no longer use.
However, it’s crucial that people who use secondary sites are told if there’s a risk that they won’t be able to get in. The CMA will be using its powers – including court action if necessary – to tackle this issue.
We will be acting to ensure certain secondary ticket websites do more to avoid fans losing out, but we also think event organisers that use resale restrictions have a role to play.
In general, people expect to be able to sell something that they have previously bought – and resale restrictions that prevent this have the potential to be unfair under consumer law.
Artists, sporting bodies, promoters and venues have told us that they want tickets to be sold at prices that are affordable to fans (rather than being bought up by businesses to be resold at a profit). But if they want to use resale restrictions to tackle ticket touts, they also need to take steps to ensure blameless customers don’t suffer.
What role can event organisers play?
We have already begun working with event organisers to explain how the law works. Last week we set out our thoughts about steps that those who use such restrictions should be taking to ensure that people don’t lose out (based on some of the industry best practice that we have observed).
Here are our proposed steps:
- full and clear disclosure of any resale restrictions upfront;
- putting in place arrangements for consumers to exchange, return and/or resell tickets that can be effective in allowing the original ticket buyer to recoup or mitigate any financial loss if they are unable to use the ticket;
- full refunds to be issued to any consumer whose ticket is voided; and
- putting in place arrangements that help to ensure that those people who have bought resold tickets, and have not been fully and clearly informed about these restrictions, will not lose out.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be looking for feedback on this – before revising and finalising our position.
So, this is a call to fans that have either bought or sold tickets through secondary ticket sites – what steps would you like to see event organisers take so you don’t lose out?
This is a guest contribution from Jon Riley, Project Director at the CMA. All views expressed here are Jon’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.