Industry News

Campaigners welcome CMA’s hard line on ticketing resale sector

Critics of the UK secondary ticketing market have welcomed the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) move to take enforcement action against resale sites suspected of breaking consumer protection laws.

The CMA said on Tuesday it has gathered evidence which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given.

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.

This information has prompted the CMA to broaden the scope of its original investigation to include the additional issues.

Anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance, which has submitted significant evidence to the CMA, said in a statement: “The CMA announcement that they will take enforcement action against secondary ticketing sites justifies everything FanFair Alliance supporters have campaigned for.

“Alongside work from the Advertising Standards Authority and National Trading Standards, we are especially pleased the CMA will expand the scope of their investigation. Beyond suspected breaches of consumer protection law, we believe the largest ticket resale platforms are riddled with bad practice, including speculative ticket listings, pressure selling and collusion with large-scale ticket touts.

“It is has taken far too long to get here, but a Sword of Damocles now hangs over the entire secondary market. If they fail to deliver root-and-branch reforms, we expect the largest resale platforms to face significant consequences.”

The CMA will also be engaging with event organisers to help them to avoid being challenged for using unfair terms to restrict the resale of their tickets. The CMA has proposed a number of steps that the industry could take in order to stop consumers losing out and is inviting feedback from the industry on this proposed approach.

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.

A spokesperson for eBay-owned reseller Stubhub said: “We remain committed to working with UK regulators to ensure consumers continue to have access to a safe, secure and transparent resale service.

“As the CMA investigation is ongoing, we await the final outcome.”

A spokeswoman for Ticketmaster, which owns resale platforms GetMeIn and Seatwave, told The Sun Online both its sites were compliant with the Consumer Rights Act by displaying information like seat numbers and seller details.

She said: “It is great to see that the CMA is taking this much-needed step to enforce the law in the UK resale market.

“We have been working closely with the CMA to ensure that we are compliant with consumer law, offering unparalleled transparency to fans when purchasing tickets.”

Luke Massie, founder and managing director of operator Vibe Tickets, said: “The secondary ticketing market is fundamentally broken due to the lack of transparency. This is an ongoing issue that is costing genuine fans and threatening the live music industry.

“The only way to tackle this issue is to create a fully transparent community, where all users are verified and genuine fans are free to speak directly to other like-minded individuals, negotiate a fair price for a ticket and purchase them online in a safe and secure environment. The average £1m worth of transactions that occur on the Vibe platform each month show that this is what fans want, and it’s encouraging that the CMA is forcing other industry players to follow suit.

“Communities like this also have the potential to serve more than the ticketing market and are more in tune with consumer habits. We are seeing an increasing number of conversations around the sale of the entire event experience from fan to fan, including travel and accommodation as well as trusted communities formed around specific artists and venues.”