The UK’s competition regulator is to take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law after the completion of an investigation into the sector.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it has gathered evidence, which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given.

The CMA conceded that some secondary sites have already made changes since the enforcement investigation was announced in December 2016, but said all operators would be required to take action where necessary or risk prosecution.

In particular, the CMA identified matters related to the lack of information available to consumers when purchasing via resale sites.

The CMA said: “It must be clear if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket that could result in buyers being denied access to an event. People should know whom they are buying from – for example if the seller is a business and/or an event organiser – and can benefit from their legal rights. Customers need to be told where exactly in a venue they will be seated.”

In addition, the CMA said it will be acting to address a failure by an unnamed website to comply fully with formal commitments it had previously given to improve the information provided about tickets advertised on its site.

It added that, during the course of the investigation, it identified a number of additional issues within the sector, including pressure selling, guarantee problems, speculative selling and the surreptitious use of secondary sites by primary sellers.

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.”

IMAGE: Josh Sorenson