Industry News

ASA ruling ‘damning’, says Reg Walker

The recent UK ban on “misleading” pricing information by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is damning for the big four resale sites, according to industry insider Reg Walker.

The director at The Iridium Consultancy told he thinks that with rigorous enforcement of the rules, StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and GetMeIn will all suffer major blows to their bottom lines.

“This is very good news for the consumer, and a very bad day for the four resale platforms,” Walker said. “This is about the real fans. This is about the consumers. They should always be at the heart of what we do.”

The advertising watchdog has clamped down on StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and GetMeIn after it found they had not been transparent about extra fees added to ticket prices.

The secondary ticketing websites have now been forced to make the total ticket price, the VAT-inclusive booking fee and the delivery fee clear from the start of the buying process.

In addition, the ASA has prohibited Viagogo from stating it is an “official site” after finding it has continuously misled fans into believing it was an endorsed primary ticket outlet. The controversial resale site has also been banned from offering a “100 per cent guarantee” claim, which the ASA said misleadingly suggests that consumers were guaranteed entry.

Walker, who gave evidence to the DCMS Committee’s Ticket Abuse Inquiry in 2016, said that touts that have been able to abuse the resale market have already caused significant damage to the industry.

“All four platforms use the argument that they are there to facilitate the resale of ticket that fans can no longer use… but that couldn’t be further from the truth. That is, in fact, a by-product of their activities,” Walker said.

“What we actually have is very large companies that have become heavily dependent on these revenue streams in order to prop up share prices and share dividends. And that puts them in a very difficult situation as there’s this pressure on them from institutional shareholders in order to produce bigger profits every year.

“And to do that you eventually get to a point where you have to cut corners. Well now it’s gone from cutting corners to cutting the whole cake in half. They’re under significant pressure to appease shareholders.”

Walker told that he thinks a price cap, along with supranational legislation is the only answer to solving the abuse of the ticketing resale market. StubHub is based in Luxemburg, while Viagogo is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I think it’s a bit like playing whack a mole,” he said. “These are very big multi-national companies. What’s not commonly known is that they’re not based in the UK so it’s difficult to enforce legislation.

“We need to impose an external solution and the raids at the StubHub and Viagogo’s London offices were a start. I’d like to see National Trading Standards using its powers and examine how these companies are working. I’d also like to see more done by police investigating and enforcing the legislation.

“The Consumer Rights Act legislation is very specific. It’s not only the person listing the tickets that are responsible, it’s the operator as well.

“We need to make the box with seat details mandatory. They are breaking the law. They need to be held to account in a court of law… We need arrests. The evidence is there.”