Too many music fans are forced to use secondary ticket sites to get gig tickets, with no real picture of who they’re buying them from. Trading Standards wants to know if this has happened to you as it works to clean up the market.
Secondary ticket sites allow genuine fans to access tickets when they have missed the primary sale – and also to sell unwanted tickets if they can no longer make a gig. But the manipulation of the sector means that it’s not functioning in the way it should be.
Secondary ticket sites are unfair on fans
Touts are allegedly using computer software known as ‘bots’ and harvesting up tickets on the primary market to immediately sell them on at vast mark-ups on secondary sites. This leaves people with very little option but to revert to the secondary sites to purchase tickets for their favourite bands.
Sadly, it’s the fans that are losing out. In a Conversation about secondary tickets back in July, EdKirby explained how this had happened to him:
“Within hours the stadium gig was sold out – within minutes the same tickets were being offered for a 300% mark-up. When the band’s frontman pulled I was offered a refund at ticket face value. If all ticket resale for profit was banned, genuine fans would stand a chance of face value tickets. I’ve stopped going to live gigs. Sick of being ripped off.”
What is being done to protect fans?
Concerns over the way the secondary sites operate have led the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to conduct a thorough investigation into their practices. In parallel, here at Trading Standards we have been investigating the touts – businesses whose trade is the mass purchase and resale of tickets.
Initial enforcement action will focus on ensuring that secondary sites give consumers the information they need to make informed purchases. Websites will have to make it clear if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket that could result in buyers being denied access to an event.
They will also have to ensure customers are being told where exactly they will be seated. If there are any viewing restrictions for example, this must be made known to the purchaser beforehand.
Cracking down on rogue businesses
When using secondary ticketing sites, it’s often unclear whether the seller is a business or not; and yet this information is extremely important if things go wrong.
If you’ve purchased tickets from a business, you have legal rights that would not exist if you were buying from a private seller. Inevitably, this leads to some secondary ticket businesses posing as private sellers to sidestep the law.
Consequently, both the CMA and Trading Standards will be taking enforcement action to ensure that ‘professional touts’ and the sites they use make it clear that they are selling tickets through their business.
If you suspect you have purchased tickets on the secondary market from a business purporting to be a private seller, we are keen to hear from you. Any information you have could help us identify the seller.
We’re also interested to hear how much you paid and if there were any problems with the tickets themselves. For example, were you refused entry to the gig because you had re-sold tickets? Were there any problems with your seat, such as restricted views/access or were you and your party seated separately without you being told this in advance?
If you think you can help us, please call the Consumer Advice Helpline on 03454 040506 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) – and do leave your comments and feedback below too.
This is a guest contribution from Julie McCarron from Trading Standards Scotland. All views expressed here are Julie’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.