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Music fans to be better protected when using ticket resale sites

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
The competition watchdog has announced a number of measures for secondary ticketing sites must take to comply with the law, or risk enforcement action.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed it will take enforcement action against ticket resale sites suspected of breaking consumer protection law.

As such, it wants to ensure all secondary ticketing websites better inform customers about what they’re buying, including whether there are restrictions on using a resold ticket which could result in them being denied access to an event.

Further, the CMA said people should know exactly who they are buying from, such as a business or event organiser in order to “benefit from their legal rights”.

It said customers need to be told where exactly they will be seated in the venue.

While the CMA isn’t able to issue fines for a breach, it can obtain redress for consumers.

The move comes after an investigation into the sector revealed there were breaches of the law but the CMA said some sites have already made changes since it opened the case last year.

However, since then, the CMA will also look at concerns surrounding the following issues before deciding whether further enforcement action should be taken:

  • pressure selling – whether claims made about the availability and popularity of tickets create a misleading impression or rush customers into making a buying decision
  • difficulties for customers in getting their money back under a website’s guarantee
  • speculative selling – where businesses advertise tickets for sale that they do not yet own and therefore may not be able to supply
  • concerns about whether the organisers of some sporting events have sold tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, said: “Secondary ticketing websites can offer an important service – by allowing people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute or giving them a chance to re-sell tickets they can no longer use. But our investigation has identified concerns that the law protecting consumers is being broken.

“Thousands of people use these sites and they have a right to know if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door, who they’ve bought their ticket from or exactly what seat at the venue they’re getting for their money.

“We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them. We will use the full range of our powers to get the right outcome for these sites’ customers – including taking action through the courts if needed.”

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “With people increasingly finding that they have to buy tickets through secondary sites, it’s right that the competition authorities are taking action against companies that aren’t playing by the rules. Our research has found many websites breaking consumer law by not listing the face value of, or restrictions on, tickets as well as key information, such as block, row and seat numbers.

“This action must now lead to much greater transparency so that consumers have a better chance of getting the best tickets for popular events.”

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