CONSUMER / COMPETITION
Live events sector
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has indicated that it will take action against Viagogo, the online secondary ticketing site. CMA announced last year that it has secondary ticketing sites in is sights. That was last year, and this week the CMA has stated that a number of secondary ticketing sites, namely StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave had updated their policies to ensure that seat numbers and seller’s identity will be provided and will even include ‘health warnings’ about the possibility of event promoters cancelling tickets sold without permission and in breach of terms on the secondary market. Not so Viagogo.
The executive director for enforcement of the CMA, Michael Grenfell, said “We welcome the changes already made and new commitments we’ve been given by StubHub, Seatwave and GetMeIn! to improve the information on offer, so that people can better judge whether they’re getting a good deal”… “But all secondary ticketing websites must play by the rules and treat their customers fairly if anything goes wrong. We take failure to comply with consumer protection law very seriously”.
Switzerland based Viagogo has not been compliant with the CMA’s requests. In fact, Grenfall explained “So far Viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law. We are prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts”.
But it’s not just the average punter that has concerns with regards to Viagogo, clearly the CMA does too. In addition to the failure to implement seat numbers and seller identities, the CMA is concerned with Viagogo’s statements with regards to ticket availability. Namely, the practice of providing allegedly misleading ticket availability statements, in an effort to entice get customers to make hasty purchasing decisions. Further concerns revolve around the issues of customer refunds and selling tickets that Viagogo may not have.
The recently launched Fair Ticketing Alliance’s Scot Tobias stated “The Fair Ticketing Alliance is delighted with the swift action of StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave to improve transparency for customers following action by the Competition & Markets Authority. Undoubtedly, this will improve the experience of live music and entertainment fans using their sites and is precisely in line with what we have been calling for as brokers”.
FAdam Web of the FanFair Alliance has stated “Today’s CMA announcement is vindication for the FanFair Alliance campaign to overhaul the online ticket resale market. UK audiences have been taken for a ride for too long by the biggest secondary platforms and the dedicated touts who fuel their business. They will now be forced to dramatically change their practices and provide proper transparency. This cannot come soon enough”.
Interestingly, it is illegal to re-sell football tickets, but in the UK there is no general prohibition on the re-sale of event tickets. This is why new laws were brought in – to protect consumers and addresses issues such as the use of so called bots. To that end, it is likely that if the CMA does pursue Viagogo in the courts it will rely on consumer protection laws that aim to make consumer contracts more transparent.
By Sam O’Toole (www.lawditmusic.co.uk)