An investigation from ITV News has found that just three people are responsible for over two thirds of festival and outdoor events tickets listed on resale site, Viagogo.
The research found that less than 10% of the listings were from ordinary consumers, with the rest being sold by ‘traders’ or resale businesses.
Research was carried out by campaign group FanFair Alliance for ITV News, and looked at 174 festivals and outdoor events and counted more than 11,000 tickets over a three-month period.
Just over two-thirds of tickets were being sold by ‘traders’, with a combined value of roughly £730,000 ($862,000/€865,000). However, these traders were attempting to sell these tickets collectively for an estimated £1.7m.
Festival organisers told ITV News that often these traders do not have the number of tickets they are advertising. The investigation tested this theory with help from a small rock festival in Wales called Cardiff Psych and Noise.
Back in April, tickets had just gone on sale but 20 were already being advertised by two sellers on Viagogo. The reporter purchased a ticket for more than four times the face value for the Welsh event, paying £165 to a trader under the name of MAS E.L, a company publicly listed under someone named Marc Stanley.
A ‘Marc Stanley’ then purchased one ticket from the organiser of Cardiff Psych and Noise a few hours later, before sending it on to the reporter. The timings and matching reference numbers on the one Stanley purchased and the one sent to the reporter concluded that the trader did not own the ticket he was selling on Viagogo. ‘Speculative selling’ is against the law.
Mike Andrews from National Trading Standards told ITV News: “I think there’s a basic principle you can’t buy or sell something you don’t legally own.
“What you’ve [ITV] shown in terms of the scale of this issue is of real concern to us because we want to make sure the consumers get a fair deal. We want to ensure that if consumers go online, they look to buy a ticket to an event, first of all they’re actually going to get that ticket for that event.
“Secondly, it distorts the market because it puts a large number of tickets in the hands of a very small number of people which can distort the prices that consumers ultimately pay.”
Viagogo told ITV News that customers would always get a valid ticket or get their money back.
A spokesperson said: “We treat concerns about tickets with the utmost priority. In this instance, we acted swiftly to remove the relevant listings and have returned several to the site that have clearly demonstrated that they are legitimate and valid.
“We continue to review the remaining listings and these remain off site.”
Viagogo is not required by law to check the details of every ticket listed on its site but it does have to carry out more checks than before. This is because in 2018 a court order was brought against Viagogo by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), forcing a website overhaul to comply with consumer law.