Ticket companies fail to listen to consumer anger about excessive fees

After Which? gave ticket companies one month to justify their practices, the biggest players in the online ticket market have failed to respond. So in the final phase of the Which? Play Fair on Ticket Fees campaign, we have handed over our findings to the Competition and Markets Authority.

On 16th June, following our investigation into compulsory ticketing fees, we set the industry a final month to respond to our questions about high additional compulsory fees. The biggest companies that dominate the market, including Ticketmaster and SeeTickets, have yet to respond.

Since the launch of our Play Fair on Ticket Fees campaign seven months ago more than 50,000 people have pledged their support and the majority of ticket companies are now displaying all their additional charges upfront.

However, Which? is concerned that the ticketing market still isn’t working well for consumers. Eight in 10 people have told us that they believe the level of additional charges by ticketing companies are a rip-off and we have found evidence of companies adding up to 37% of the face value of the ticket in compulsory fees like booking and delivery charges.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:

“While it’s good that most companies are now being upfront about additional charges, major players in the ticketing industry appear still to be ignoring the anger of the thousands of consumers who joined our campaign against rip-off fees. Our findings are now in the hands of the Competition and Markets Authority.”

Notes to Editors:

1.    You can find the full results of our latest investigation here

2.    You can find more about our campaign and sign our petition here www.which.co.uk/ticketfees

3.    Company responses:

·      Along with Ticketmaster and See Tickets, the following companies also failed to respond to our deadline: AEG, ATG Tickets, Delfont Mackintosh, Eventim, Gigantic, Theatre Tickets Direct, The Ticket Factory, Ticketline and Ticket Web.

·      lastminute.com and Stargreen responded directly to our deadline, explaining that while they try to keep additional charges low they add on fees to cover their costs.

·         Previously WeGotTickets, Biletto, BH Live Tickets, London Theatre Direct, O2/AXS and Skiddle had provided us with some information about their business practices or their views on the industry.

4.    Which?’s concerns about the ticketing market include:

  • The market is dominated by a handful of large players including Ticketmaster and SeeTickets.  Some of these big players are part of larger companies that also control other sections of the market such as promoters and venues.
  • We have questions about behind-the-scenes industry practices such as promoters receiving a slice of the revenue generated by booking fees, often referred to as a ‘rebate’. This could incentivise promoters to allocate tickets to ticketing companies that offer higher rates of commission, rather than those that will keep fees low for consumers.
  • Reports of misleading marketing practices such as promoters selling tickets directly onto the secondary market, leaving consumers under the impression that they are buying a ticket that is being resold, when they are actually being sold directly for the first time.

5.    Methodology for consumer survey: 2,015 members of the general public completed an online survey between 30th and 31st October 2013. 1,113 had booked tickets online in the past 12 months.

Press Release