/ Travel & Leisure

Is the ticket resale market just smoke and mirrors?


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?

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.

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.