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CMA letter addresses event organisers’ role in resale

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has issued an open letter to event organisers in the UK detailing their responsibilities over ticket sale terms and conditions, transparency over resale restrictions and consumer rights.

The CMA secured a court order against Viagogo requiring it to overhaul its practices, and obtained formal commitments from StubHub, GETMEIN! and Seatwave (owned by Ticketmaster) requiring them to make a number of changes to the way in which information is provided to their customers. GETMEIN! and Seatwave have subsequently closed, but the commitments will continue to apply to the resale of tickets through Ticketmaster’s website.

The letter states that organisers should make sure that, as a minimum, information about restrictions on use is clearly and prominently disclosed on the event home page and the first page of the purchase process on the websites of all official sellers.

It also urges managers to notify resellers about problems with any information relevant to the event tickets. The CMA says organisers must notify platforms of any issues that occur before or after tickets go on sale on the primary market in writing and should also provide seat information and supporting evidence.

The letter reads: “Although the CMA’s primary focus has been on addressing the platforms’ compliance with consumer protection law, it has also worked with event organisers to avoid the potential for consumer harm caused by terms and conditions that restrict resale, following a recommendation by Professor Waterson in his 2016 review of the secondary ticket market.

“As part of this work, the CMA carried out a number of discussions with organisers of music, theatre and sporting events. Following these discussions the CMA has decided to help event organisers that use restrictions on resale to be clearer on where they stand – by setting out steps that they can take to reduce the risk of the CMA prioritising enforcement action against them for using unfair terms.”

The CMA also noted that it has written an open letter to secondary ticket website operators to remind them of their obligations under consumer protection law.

It concluded: “We expect anyone operating a secondary ticketing facility, including event organisers, to change their practices where necessary and bring themselves into line with the law.”

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