Event organisers have been warned that fairness should be at the heart of their ticket reselling policies in new guidance published by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR).
The document, issued to those organisers that wish to restrict the unauthorised resale of tickets, provides details on what is required to help determine a “fair” resale policy and implement it.
STAR used guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)’s open letter to event organisers, which it sent out January 2019, and states that “resale restrictions have the potential to cause consumer harm if they prevent consumers from recouping or substantially reducing their losses if they find they can no longer attend an event.”
The CMA suggests that event organisers should provide refunds to customers or offer alternative ways to help them avoid financial detriment. For example, customers who can no longer attend an event could be offered access to another date. Organisers could also provide a credit note that can be used in future for another similar event, or they could offer a resale method.
STAR, the self-regulatory body for the entertainment ticketing industry in the UK, says: “If a customer that cannot attend an event is left with a ticket he cannot return, cannot exchange and cannot resell, it is likely that the terms and conditions are unfair.”
It also notes that systems should be in place to allow ticket holders to transfer the pass to family of friends at no cost for those customers who “unwittingly buy tickets that include resale restrictions as a gift.”
Before adding resale restrictions, STAR lists six items to consider, such as whether the limits will apply to all events or only specific ones and how the restrictions will be enforced.
STAR adds: “Considering these points will not only help event organisers to decide which resale terms should apply and how they are enforced, it will also help to reduce the risk of the CMA prioritising enforcement action against them.”
Following the Waterson Review of Consumer Protection Measures concerning Online Secondary Ticketing Facilities in May 2016, STAR initiated a number of broad industry meetings to look at terms and conditions restricting resale. Representatives attended those meetings from a number of key entertainment industry organisations and included presentations and workshops on unfair terms regulations, led by the CMA.
STAR said it would publish an updated version of its full model terms incorporating these optional amendments for those that want to restrict resale in this way.