/ Travel & Leisure

Is the ticket resale market just smoke and mirrors?

Tickets

With our latest investigation into the ticket resale market showing that as many as a quarter of tickets for popular music, theatre and sporting events find their way onto the secondary ticketing sites, we want more transparency and action against those who don’t play by the rules.

I enjoy seeing live music and try and get hold of tickets to see my favourite bands as often as I can. In a sense, I’m fairly fortunate as I have an acquired enough music taste to find that the tickets I want don’t sell out as instantly as say an Ed Sheeran, Beyonce or Adele gig would.

That said I have lost out on tickets before (The xx and The Maccabees in case you’re wondering)…

Ticket frustrations

It’s not just really annoying when you sit there waiting for the tickets to go on sale – I’ve even taken a morning off of work just to buy tickets that go on sale at 10am – but it’s unfair when the tickets sell out and almost instantly appear on a resale website, usually with a mark-up on the face value too.

Earlier this week, 10,000 tickets for Ed Sheeran’s upcoming tour were cancelled by the tour promoters after finding that the tickets were being sold on resale sites. This was despite his management saying only tickets bought via an official seller or resold on Twickets, would be valid.

Mass confusion

While the volume of tickets that crop up on secondary sites is clearly a problem, so is the mass confusion that seems to surround ticket resale sites.

When we asked people who’ve used the resale market to buy tickets we found that nearly half of them thought they were buying from an official ticket seller.

One fan told us:

‘Our problem was that we did not know about secondary ticketing before this and because we did not know the actual cost of a ticket and because the venue site told us that the concert was sold out we went with this. However with the booking fee 72,49 euros and delivery fee 17.95 euros and VAT, our cost was 358.45 euros for two 60 euro tickets. We now know about secondary ticketing and we will never go down this path again.’

We’ve previously found that ticket resale sites were breaking consumer law by not listing the face value of tickets, restrictions on the ticket and, where appropriate, standing or seating information, such as block, row and seat numbers.

And our latest research has found that the way tickets are sold on resale sites makes it difficult for people to make informed decisions about what they’re buying. Our survey found that 46% of people have had problems with hidden fees when buying tickets, while around 10% said the seat or area wasn’t as described.

Transparent tickets

The Competition and Markets Authority is currently investigating possible breaches of consumer protection law in the secondary ticketing industry. But, in the meantime sites need to be doing more to make sure there is more transparency on tickets they list.

Should fans have to resort to secondary sites simply because the primary source isn’t serving genuine fans properly? What would do to make the experience better for genuine fans?

Comments
Guest
Ian says:
21 July 2017

Unless tickets are resold at face value plus minimal, if any, handling costs the whole thing is a massive scam. Tickets resold should not make any profit for the ticket holder or the reseller.

Genuine re-sale where someone is ill or simply can’t make it would normally expect to make a small loss on the sale, and would accept that they got most of their money back.

Profile photo of Lauren Deitz
Guest

Handling costs annoy me too, Ian. I had two transaction fees for one transaction and a random ticket fee included too on a recent ticket purchase 🙁

There’s a place for a resale market, but it would be helpful if that market was a bit fairer to consumers…

Guest
Peter says:
22 July 2017

All unwanted tickets should be resold at their original price or returned to the original seller for resale to genuine fans. The original seller must refund the original buyer subject to the tickets being resold minus a reasonable admin/handleing charge. tickets being advertise for resale should show the original price and all other relevant details.

Guest
Ross says:
25 July 2017

There is a way to make the market complete transparent but due to conflicts of interests at the top it’ll never happen soon so fans shafted

Guest
Dan says:
25 July 2017

I dont really have a problem with resale sites, I cant always get to a computer at the on sale time for gigs and often have to buy resale, I have had mixed eperience on price, I have bought below face value several times at or around face value and over face value. you pay your money you take your chance. Its not illegal as far as I know, you get a lot of whingers jumping on the band wagon just because they missed a show and are too tight to pay a little over the odds.

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Guest

Hi Dan, resale sites certainly serve a purpose, and there’s an argument to be had that things are worth what people are willing to pay. However, you should be able to buy tickets on a secondary site knowing exactly what you’re buying, knowing that it’s on a secondary site and also that you are paying more than face value.

Guest
Joy Reising says:
25 July 2017

Yes something needs to be done. Tickets bought from this site will not be accepted at next year’s Commonwealth Games. In all honesty they should be closed on and maybe even severe penalties for people who sell these tickets and who run the site.

Guest
Scotty says:
25 July 2017

The resale of tickets for profit in other European Countries is either banned or heavily restricted.
The UK should follow suit and ban resales outright.

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Guest

Surely there should be a difference between (1) tickets genuinely resold because the buyer no longer requires them, and (2) those falsely resold because they were bought as a speculation with the intention of reselling them at a mark up. I would suggest those those in Category 2 should not be available for sale until seven days before the event.

Even accepting that the Ed Sheeran tour was a genuine attempt to satisfy fans by controlling distribution through specified channels I can’t believe there wasn’t some collusion somewhere in the chain of management to enable tens of thousands of tickets to be available immediately on resellers’ sites .

I don’t think you get this problem so much with certain artistes where supply outstrips demand. I hope the CMA also speak to Sir TJ, Sir CR and Sir RS to hear how they feel about the operation of the concert ticket market.

Guest
Mark says:
25 July 2017

I thought it very strange that Viagogo says it is a market place yet seems to have hundreds of tickets the day after they have been released. Are there really that many people buying tickets one day only to realise the next day that they can’t or don’t want to go? …. or is Viagogo getting people to buy tickets?

Guest
Jesse Chavez-Munoz says:
25 July 2017

The so called extortionate booking fee only shows up after you purchase the tickets. I was led to believe that this was not a resale site and i was charged 400% more than face value .

Guest
Mark says:
25 July 2017

I believe the underlying problem is because the venues have simply got lazy. There is a simple solution. Apply to the venue for the tickets. The venue then issues a receipt (not a ticket) and the purchaser turns up for the event with their receipt and payment card, swipes and gets the tickets at the door. If for some reason, before the event, you decide you don’t want the tickets, you cancel online making them available again. Not fool-proof, but would certainly cut down on the touting and reselling.

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Guest

Within hours the stadium gig was sold out – within minutes the same tickets were being offered for a 300% markup.
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.

Guest
Lesley Edwards says:
25 July 2017

Get rid of ticketmaster and all these subsidiaries of ticketmaster and get decent software at each venue to allow th venue to sell the tickets direct to the public and ban the software that allows ticket touts to accumulate huge amounts of tickets!

Guest
Sandra Edgar says:
25 July 2017

Genuine fans often can’t even get into the ‘ official ‘ sites ! But at the same time the sister sites are already selling tickets at vastly inflated prices, which might be bearable ( just ) but then add handling , postage etc and it becomes ridiculously expensive!! It’s all a total scam and should be banned!

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Guest

It is quite clear that event ticketing needs to come under significant control. What we have at the moment is an electronic ticket tout system. I cannot be absolutely certain but hope that the Andre Rieu event that I have booked is through a genuine booking process. I do not understand why the event organisers fail to have complete control over ticket sales and that the sale must be to an individual and not to an unnamed block booking account. After all, in many cases it is an individual that is going to occupy the seat.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
25 July 2017

“Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has levied fines totalling €1.7 million on five ticket agencies”

I see allusions to other countries being more in control of this perennial problem/topic. Is it possible for there to be a full examination of the countries which are more in control. Possibly the CMA will cover it but given the number of times the subject comes up you have to wonder why a reasonable solution has not been found.

Italy
The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has levied fines totalling €1.7 million on five ticket agencies for breaching consumer rights legislation AGCM’s investigation dates back to October, when consumer group Altroconsumo asked the quango to look into allegations primary seller TicketOne was passing tickets directly to the secondary market. It found that while TicketOne, owned by Germany’s CTS Eventim, is “contractually bound to adopt anti-touting measures, [it] did not take appropriate steps to prevent bulk buying through specialist software, nor has it tried to limit multiple purchases or set up a system of ex-post controls to cancel them”.

For violating article 20(2) of the Italian Consumer Code, TicketOne has been fined €1m. Additionally, four secondary ticketing sites – Viagogo, MyWayTicket, Live Nation’s Seatwave and eBay/StubHub’s Ticketbis – have been hit with a collective €700,000 fine for their failure to provide complete ticket information to customers “concerning several essential elements which potential buyers need to make their transactional decisions”. “In particular, the traders would not provide adequate information concerning the ticket features, including their face value, the row and the seat, as well as consumer rights in case of the event’s cancellation,” reads a statement from AGCM. “Moreover, the websites failed to clarify that these traders were mere intermediaries on the secondary market.”
By Jon Chapple, courtesy of IQ Magazine
https://www.iq-mag.net/2017/04/italian-ticketers-fines-agcm/#.WPnTF4jyuM9

Australia
choice.com.au/shopping/everyday-shopping/tickets/articles/ticket-resale-websites

Canada
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/ticket-reselling-bots-poll-1.4105688

Profile photo of Vanessa Furey
Guest

Hi Patrick

Thanks for posting these, I think its a really interesting issue that is affecting consumers across a number of countries. We’ve actually been talking to a number of the consumer associations and working really closely with Choice in Australia on this issue. A few of us ran the call for feedback from consumers who had used these sites which we sent to Choice to analyse.

Separately, we’ve always provided the CMA with information on the investigations we’ve done over the last couple of years, and sent them the most recent data to feed into the enforcement investigation for breached of consumer protection regulation in the resale market that is on going. There hasn’t been any announcement on when that might report yet but we will be keeping a look out.

Guest
Patrick Taylor says:
25 July 2017

Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has levied fines totalling €1.7 million on five ticket agencies

I see allusions to other countries being more in control of this perennial problem/topic. Is it possible for there to be a full examination of the countries which are more in control. Possibly the CMA will cover it but given the number of times the subject comes up you have to wonder why a reasonable solution has not been found.

Italy
The Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) has levied fines totalling €1.7 million on five ticket agencies for breaching consumer rights legislation AGCM’s investigation dates back to October, when consumer group Altroconsumo asked the quango to look into allegations primary seller TicketOne was passing tickets directly to the secondary market. It found that while TicketOne, owned by Germany’s CTS Eventim, is “contractually bound to adopt anti-touting measures, [it] did not take appropriate steps to prevent bulk buying through specialist software, nor has it tried to limit multiple purchases or set up a system of ex-post controls to cancel them”.

For violating article 20(2) of the Italian Consumer Code, TicketOne has been fined €1m. Additionally, four secondary ticketing sites – Viagogo, MyWayTicket, Live Nation’s Seatwave and eBay/StubHub’s Ticketbis – have been hit with a collective €700,000 fine for their failure to provide complete ticket information to customers “concerning several essential elements which potential buyers need to make their transactional decisions”. “In particular, the traders would not provide adequate information concerning the ticket features, including their face value, the row and the seat, as well as consumer rights in case of the event’s cancellation,” reads a statement from AGCM. “Moreover, the websites failed to clarify that these traders were mere intermediaries on the secondary market.”
By Jon Chapple, courtesy of IQ Magazine
iq-mag.net/2017/04/italian-ticketers-fines-agcm/#.WPnTF4jyuM9

Guest
Angela says:
25 July 2017

E- tickets have been sent from Viagogo with someone’s name on it – how do I know these tickets haven’t been resold a number of times. There is no guarantee. Why are credit card companies allowing payments to go through – and unable to get money back? When you speak to them they say they are aware of Viagogo and their dealings but continue to allow Viagogo to take our money!!! Are they getting back-handers from them???

Profile photo of John Ward
Guest

That could be the case, Angela. My suspicion is that the massive mark-ups on ‘resold’ tickets are distributed up and down the chain of the various layers involved in putting on an event – except perhaps the artistes who might also be being exploited.

Guest
Frank Galpin says:
26 July 2017

It was documented in a television documentary that sites like Viagogo have banks of ticket ‘purchasers with multiple credit cards buying tickets as soon as they go on sale. This is ticket touting at its worst but no action was taken by the authorities. The ‘admin’ costs/booking fees are extortionate too.

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Guest

It seems to me that the ticket resale market is an example of unregulated free enterprise at work.

If I were interested in going to gigs, I certainly wouldn’t want to pay over the odds for my tickets, so I can understand the anguish of those who end up choosing to do this.

However, in comparison with topics like Brexit, energy prices, the NHS and so on, I don’t think gig ticket prices is an area that merits of lot of attention for government action and/or new regulations. I think it would be better if the music industry and its customers could remedy these issues without recourse to help from nanny state.

Profile photo of Mrs DBM
Guest

I was a victim of this ticket fraud recently, I wanted to buy tkts to see my favourite group, I did a Google search was directed to Viagogo.
Viagogo claimed that it was the legitimate seller for the band. The Viagogo website is cleverly designed to induce panic so that you believe that your tkts are on the point of being sold immediately if you don’t buy them.
The Viagogo website also has lots of flashing images popping up on your screen.
At no point could I see your basket or the total value once you add your tkts to the basket.
It is only after the purchase when I received the confirmation email that I realised that (in my case) 2 x £30 tkts so £60 worth of tkts come to over £360 on total on their website.
I am a seasoned tkt buyer, I thought that because Google directed me to Viagogo, this website was an official seller for my band.
They were not, Viagogo are at best scalpers and at worst fraidsters.
Why are they allowed to practise in this way?
Why are Google redirecting and colluding with Viagogo?
If you go on Facebook, you’ll see that thousands of people like myself, have been ripped off.
I’ve been in touch with the venue and they’ve said that the tkts ‘purchased’ from Viagogo do not exist.
There is no seat plan or tkt number for what I believe to have purchased.
So I have been ripped off fraudulently.
Please investigate this company.

Guest
elizabeth crowe says:
26 July 2017

These resale sites need to be closed down as it’s totally fraudulent and illegal!

Guest
Neil says:
27 July 2017

It is not difficult to control, when you buy a ticket online you have to give your billing address and card number to purchase.The venue can then only allow access to the person presenting these 2 details at the venue , If these details are not presented at the entrance to the venue then admittance will not be allowed thus removing resale sites and the very annoying ticket touts outside venues. If you have bought the tickets legitimately then there is nothing to be worried about,only people who have bought resale tickets would have a no admittance problem and once the word spread that resale tickets would not allow access then there would cease to be a market for this , and genuine fans would be able to have a better chance of getting tickets
The other problem is official ticket sales outlets also have resale sites as well, you can’t tell me it’s not better for them to be able to sell tickets at a vastly inflated price through their “sister” sites than to the general public.
I recently attended a large concert in London apparently sold out but at the concert there were large areas of empty seats, I can only assume bought by resale sites and subsequently not been able to sell on thus depriving genuine fans of a chance to see the artist.

Guest
Andrew Horrex says:
3 August 2017

We bought tickets from Viagogo for an event in London recently after the last minute cancellation of the Adele concert that we were due to attend. Tickets were bought on the day of the event and arrived as e-tickets, we arrived at the venue and it said e-tickets were not accepted and they would not print the tickets for us as they were resell tickets and not in our name, they checked our tickets and said someone had already entered the venue on these tickets so even if we went somewhere to print them we would not gain entry. The ticket office at the event would not put this In writing for us and just gave us an email address for the promotor of the event to confirm this in writing. Still battling with Viagogo several weeks later to try and obtain a refund, to which they have tried everything possible to avoid a refund under their 100% guarantee, hoping that we will give up, the matter is now with our credit card company. Sites like Viagogo should not be allowed to operate in the UK, they are depriving genuine fans the chance to buy tickets from the official seller for an event by buying them up on an industrial scale.