COMPETITION / CONSUMER
Live events sector
In August, the Vienna Commercial Court found that the fees on tickets sold via CTS’s oeticket website, which charges €2.50 for ‘print @ home’ and mobile tickets and €1.90 for those picked up from branches of Libro or oeticket’s own box offices fell foul of Austrian law. Now the Higher Regional Court of Vienna (Oberlandesgericht Wien, OLG) has also ruled against Eventim. VKI said that the OLG took particular exception to the fact oeticket does not offer a fee-free delivery option, leaving the consumer with no option but to pay them.
And British consumer protection body National Trading Standards has made four arrests as part of its investigation into the business activities of large-scale secondary ticket sellers in the UK. In a separate investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo. The new arrests are linked to alleged breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which introduce a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices, specific prohibitions against misleading and aggressive practices and a blacklist of 31 practices that will be deemed unfair in all circumstances.
A National Trading Standards statement said “Officers from National Trading Standards conducted raids at a number of properties across the UK. These raids are part of an ongoing investigation looking into unfair practices in the secondary ticketing market and particularly the practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk” adding “A total of four properties were raided and four people were arrested under suspicion of breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. In addition to the arrests, a range of equipment, including computers, mobile phones and storage devices, have been seized as evidence” and “National Trading Standards has also been working closely with the Competition and Markets Authority, which announced on 28 November that it will take action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law.”
In North Amercia, StubHub’s general manager for concerts and theatre in North America, Jeff Poirier, has penned an “open letter to fans” criticising Ontario’s abandonment of the planned ticket transparency provisions in its new Ticket Sales Act, which has passed into law. In its current form, the Ticket Sales Act caps the price of resold tickets at 150% of face value, bans ticket bots and requires business selling or reselling tickets to disclose certain information, including the capacity of the venue, the number of tickets on general on-sale and the original face-value ticket price. The Act originally required ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets are available to the public for a given event seven days before they go on sale – a proposal resisted by the Candia live sector
And coalition of Japanese parliamentarians are to submit a bill to the House of Representatives to regulate Japan’s online secondary ticketing market. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members of the Parliamentary Group on Live Entertainment have proposed a bill which would mean all tickets resold on the internet must include information about the event’s date, time, location and seat number; a notice that resale of the ticket is prohibited; and that the promoter has taken measures to prevent the ticket’s resale, including by checking the identity of the ticket seller. The proposed legislation would also classify resale of tickets above face value as fraud. Ticket Camp, Japan’s largest secondary platform, is currently being investigated by the police for alleged breaches of competition law.