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Buying secondary tickets – ensuring that you are protected

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On 19 September, around 200 fans were reportedly refused entry to a Foo Fighters’ gig at London’s O2 arena. Accounts of the issue suggest that people who had bought tickets from resale sites were denied access when they couldn’t produce ID that matched the name of the original ticket buyer. Innocent consumers like these are being left out in the cold – literally – as artists, promoters and venues act to tackle so-called ticket touts.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned about this issue and others in the secondary tickets sector – and we're keen to hear from you on aspects of our work.

CMA to take enforcement action on secondary ticketing sites

Last week, the CMA announced that it will be taking enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites aimed at ensuring important information about tickets and their sellers is provided to buyers. We're working together with National Trading Standards and Trading Standards Scotland – who are looking at the practices of businesses that buy tickets in bulk and sell them through secondary ticketing sites.

A key focus of the CMA’s work is to ensure that users of these sites are told about resale restrictions which could lead to them being turned away at the door. Thousands of people in the UK use secondary ticket websites. They can offer an important service – by allowing people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute or resell tickets they can no longer use. However, it’s crucial that people who use secondary sites are told if there’s a risk they won’t be able to get in. The CMA will be using its powers – including court action if necessary – to tackle this issue.

Working with event organisers

While we'll be acting to ensure certain secondary ticket websites do more to avoid fans losing out – we also think event organisers that use resale restrictions have a role to play as well.

In general, people expect to be able to sell something that they have previously bought – and resale restrictions that prevent this have the potential to be unfair under consumer law.

Artists, sporting bodies, promoters and venues have told us that they want tickets to be sold at prices that are affordable to fans (rather than being bought up by businesses to be resold at a profit). But if they want to use resale restrictions to tackle ticket touts, they need to take steps to ensure blameless customers don’t suffer.

The CMA has already begun working with event organisers to explain how the law works and last week we set out our current thoughts about steps that those who use such restrictions should be taking to ensure that people don’t lose out (based on some of the industry best practice that we have observed). These proposed steps are:

  • full and clear disclosure of any resale restrictions upfront
  • putting in place arrangements for consumers to exchange, return and/or resell tickets that can be effective in allowing the original ticket buyer to recoup or mitigate any financial loss if they're unable to use the ticket
  • full refunds to be issued to any consumer whose ticket is voided
  • putting in place arrangements that help to ensure that those people who have bought resold tickets, and have not been fully and clearly informed about these restrictions, won't lose out

Over the coming weeks we’ll be looking for feedback on this – before revising and finalising our position.

So this is a call to fans that have either bought or sold tickets through secondary ticket sites – what steps would you like to see event organisers take so you don’t lose out? Tell us at

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  1. Comment by Mike Marsh posted on

    I would urge the CMA to try to make it law that ALL ticketing sites are forced to show a full page breakdown of ALL costs together with a total price to be paid BEFORE there are any details of Credit Card details being asked for .

  2. Comment by TERRY HART posted on

    Suggest the checkout procedure for TRUSTED sites such as Paypal is researched and if appropriate adopted as the ONLY way checkout can proceed to ensure transparency ON ALL SECONDARY TICKETING SITES.

    As a member of 'VICTIMS OF VIAGOGO' ( almost 4000 Members on Facebook) many users claim to have been grossly overcharged due to the addition of large 'booking fees" etc ETC - undisclosed during the check out process !

    VIAGOGO take your credit card details FIRST and again as reported on VOV many times, do not allow cancellation and in my case apply a fee of 15 times face value of the tickets.

    As Mike Marsh states 'I would urge the CMA to try to make it law that ALL ticketing sites are forced to show a full page breakdown of ALL costs together with a total price to be paid BEFORE there are any details of Credit Card details being asked for"

  3. Comment by Jan Bird posted on

    I would like to have a company like Viagogo banned from deliberately deceiving customers into paying far more than they expect for tickets and then not sending them or the tickets not being valid.

    Their way of during the public is against Consumer Rights and the only recourse is to re-sell them via their company at a huge extra cost.

    Absolutely criminal.

  4. Comment by Fifi posted on

    It is not the venues that are at fault - it is the ticket resellers who are making extortionate profits. Ticket resellers use technologies that members of the public cannot hope to compete with. Venues don't have the resources to manage re-sales on this scale - nor should they. It is the ticket resellers who should incur costs relating to re-sales, not the venues. Airlines and hotels can sell tickets or rooms that are non-refundable, so why can't venues do the same? If venues are going to have to put these processes in place, they will be forced to add flexible ticketing to their pricing - which, as we all know, is usually double the face value.

  5. Comment by John Duxbury posted on

    I would ask the CMA to make it law that:

    > there is a clear statement (with a tick box acknowledgement) to inform the consumer they are buying from a secondary site

    > the face value of the ticket is listed clearly in addition to all charges (to include fees, VAT, other currently charges) being itemised so that there is an absolutely clear and definitive cost of transaction BEFORE any credit card details can be entered

    > where the concert promoter has stated resale is not permitted, that that is an explicit warning statement of this with an acknowledgement tick box

    From my experience one of the most significant issues is when consumers get 'caught up in the moment' on a concert or sporting event launch day when they think they are buying tickets from the official site and only afterwards realise they have been ripped off and are caught in a dispute with a secondary platform operator that has milked the opportunity.

    I would favour all ticket vendor platforms being overseen and regulated by the FCA

  6. Comment by Robin Pinfold. posted on

    And a "review" and "confirm" and "cancel" option clearly shown.

  7. Comment by Gordon Chalmers posted on

    It's obviously never going to be 100% possible to prevent abuse, but a start would be making the resale of tickets above their face value illegal, and punitive fines for companies like Viagogo using "sting" operations to catch them and other companies as well as individuals.There is always scope for people to recoup their outlay when they can't make an event, and no reason why they can't recover expenses involved in reselling, but the blatant exploitation of fans and the underhand methods they use have to be dealt with.

  8. Comment by Gregor Broad posted on

    Sir, the whole Re-Seller market should be investigated for bad practices. Once again I have been let down badly, this time Tickets for the first American Football game at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium went on sale at 10:00, 6th June. These tickets could only be bought through subsidiary Duly logged on at 10:00 sharp only to be put in a queue,at 10:00 I had a message 'all tickets sold'.
    Thought this was odd, so went on ViaGoGo and Stub-Hub web sites to find literally 'hundreds' of tickets for sale at vastly increased prices.
    This cannot be right as they must have software that somehow infiltrates companies blocking others access. Please investigate this.

    • Replies to Gregor Broad>

      Comment by Rhys Gedrych posted on

      Yes, the same problem. Logged-on at 10:00 sharp, put in queue and at 10:40
      a message 'all tickets sold'. Something has to be dome regarding this, my two young sons(who are really enthusiastic regarding American Football) are absolutely 'gutted' as I felt sure that tickets would be available. The site must have been 'blocked' so that general public had no chance of tickets.


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