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Regulator threatens Viagogo with court action

StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave commit to make improvements following enforcement action

Following enforcement action, three major secondary ticketing websites have pledged to make improvements. However, Viagogo is yet to act.

StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave have formally committed to ensuring better information will be given about tickets being resold through their platforms.

The pledge from the secondary ticketing sites builds on changes they had already made during the course of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) investigation.

Viagogo hasn’t currently agreed to make changes that the CMA considers necessary.

Therefore, the CMA has notified Viagogo that it will take action through the courts, unless it promptly commits to satisfactorily addressing the CMA’s concerns.

The pledge from the secondary ticketing sites builds on changes they had already made during the course of the CMA’s investigation.

Viagogo fails to commit to CMA changes

The CMA raised the same concerns about how information is provided to customers with a fourth platform, Viagogo, in addition to other issues, including a historic failure to comply with a commitment given in 2015.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also singled out Viagogo earlier this year and banned it from using the terms ‘official site’ and ‘100% guaranteed’ on the tickets it lists. Both terms suggest it’s an official primary ticketing agent, not a secondary marketplace.

Tickets sold without crucial information

An investigation into secondary ticketing sites that Which? conducted last year found Viagogo was a repeat offender when it comes to selling tickets with strict anti-resale conditions.

Viagogo charged up to 34% in fees – and failed to show the full VAT-inclusive price until we clicked through to add payment details.

Our research also spotted prices quoted in sterling but then charged in other currencies, for example, euros or Swiss francs.

Young woman working from home late at night. She is holding credit card while using laptop computer.

Telephone customer service is limited to those with tickets for events within 72 hours and Which? members reported difficulties getting a response via email.

Which? researchers took a snapshot of tickets to 12 popular events released in 2017 and found that Viagogo had paid-for Google ads placing it at the top of the list in seven cases.

Google has since banned secondary ticketing websites from implying they’re primary ticket sellers if they wish to advertise through Google Adwords, and instructed them to be more transparent about pricing.

Which? has repeatedly exposed secondary ticketing websites

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘We have repeatedly exposed secondary ticketing websites, including Viagogo, for playing fast and loose with the rules, and putting people at risk of getting a raw deal on tickets. So we welcome this strong action from the competition authority.

‘The biggest players in the market must swiftly make the changes agreed with the CMA, so that consumers are no longer misled and have the information they need when looking to buy tickets through secondary ticketing websites.’

New changes secondary ticketing users will see

The changes the other three secondary ticketing sites have committed to are intended to help you decide whether buying a ticket is worthwhile, as well as pick up the best deal.

The secondary ticketing sites are committing to making the following clear:

  • Whether there is a risk you might be turned away at the door
  • Which seat in the venue you will get
  • Who’s selling the ticket, so you can benefit from enhanced legal rights when buying from a business.

To ensure people can easily find this vital information, the StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave will make significant changes to the way they gather and display it.

They will make it mandatory for sellers to provide this information when listing a ticket, routinely carry out their own checks on primary ticket sellers’ websites about resale restrictions and act promptly if event organisers tell them that information is missing.

Be careful buying tickets online

Buying tickets online can sometimes be tricky – especially if it isn’t clear whether or not the ticket seller is official or if tickets fail to turn up in time for event.

If you’re thinking about buying from unauthorised ticket sellers for an event, our guides can help you to spot whether a ticket seller is official and tell you what to do if things go wrong.

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