New Which? research reveals music and theatre tickets are still being sold unlawfully on some of the UK’s biggest secondary ticketing sites.
With the Government’s independent review of the secondary ticketing market due to report by 26 May, Which? has found numerous examples of tickets being sold in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The Act specifically requires that consumers must be made aware of the original face value of tickets for secondary sale, any restrictions on the ticket and, where appropriate, standing or seating information, such as block, row and seat numbers.
Despite these legal requirements, we found examples where consumers were left without key information, including row and seat numbers and the original face value of the ticket, on secondary ticketing sites including Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and GET ME IN!.
Which? research looked at more than 200 ticket listings for Beyonce’s Formation tour, Catherine Tate, Jersey Boys, Magic of the Musicals and Wicked the Musical across the four main secondary ticketing sites – Viagogo, StubHub, GET ME IN! and Seatwave. We also posed as a seller on these sites to check what information was required when listing tickets.
No face value information: On Viagogo, some of the listings we saw for the Beyonce Formation tour and Catherine Tate Show failed to show the exact face value of the original ticket. Instead, in these cases, Viagogo’s small print said the face value of each ticket was within a range. For Beyonce, this range was often very large (from around £40 to more than £200). When posing as a seller, we found that Viagogo make it mandatory for ticket sellers to enter the exact face value when listing a ticket so Viagogo appear not to always be passing this information on to buyers on their site.
No seat numbers: None of the listings we checked on Viagogo showed seat numbers. A large number of the listings on StubHub and Seatwave were without seat numbers, only row numbers and/or section numbers. Only one listing on GET ME IN! provided a seat number, most did not. We found that a seller could list tickets on GET ME IN!, Viagogo, StubHub and Seatwave without providing the seat numbers associated with the ticket.
No information on restrictions: Viagogo did not require sellers to provide ticket restrictions when listing the ticket for sale. On the other three sites – Stubhub, Seatwave and GET ME IN! – sellers were required to confirm there were no restrictions.
In light of this evidence, Which? is calling on the Government to use its forthcoming report to clarify that it is the secondary ticketing sites, not consumers, who are responsible for ensuring listings comply with the Consumer Rights Act and take action to enforce the law where clear breaches are found.
Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns, Alex Neill, said:
“We’ve found evidence of tickets being sold unlawfully which means people will struggle to find basic information on tickets such as face value and seat location.
“It is clear that the protections put in place by the Consumer Rights Act aren’t being followed by some of the biggest players in the market and no action is being taken against them. The Government must crack down on bad practice so that people know what they’re buying and don’t get ripped off.”
When we approached StubHub for a response to our findings, a spokesperson said: “StubHub requires that any seller listing a ticket on stubhub.co.uk must at all times comply with applicable laws and regulations. In addition, we actively prompt sellers to provide information on face value and row and seat number. There are instances where sellers may not have access to this information at the time of listing, as some primary vendors do not provide this at the time of purchase.”
Viagogo, Seatwave and GET ME IN! did not provide a response to our findings.
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Notes to Editors:
We looked at more than 200 listings across the four leading secondary websites (StubHub, Viagogo, GET ME IN! and Seatwave) for a range of events in London including Beyonce, Catherine Tate, Wicked, Jersey Boys and Magic of the Musicals. We went through the buying journey to the point before we had to enter details to make a purchase and recorded if and how the ticket face value and specific seat details were displayed.
We checked the following secondary ticketing the sites’ requirements when posting a ticket as a seller and also checked the sites for their Ts&Cs: StubHub, Viagogo, GET ME IN!, and Seatwave. We checked if the sites made it a requirement to post details of: (i) the face value of the ticket, (ii) the standing or seating details and (iii) any restrictions on the ticket.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, consumers must be notified of any restrictions on the tickets, all standing or seating details which apply (such as row and seat numbers) and the original face value of the ticket.
Which? advice on ways to beat the touts:
a. Join the fan club – If you’ve got a favourite artist or a preferred venue, sign up to the newsletter and you may get priority booking, or discount codes for particular events.
b. Ensure you get ahead of the game – Use sites, such as gettothefront.co.uk and beatthetouts.com, which list advance tour dates, and sign up for alerts from primary sites, such as Ticketmaster and Seetickets. O2 Priority also offers customers early booking for specific shows, often two days before the general sale.
c. Check with the venue first – If you can, visit in person – the venue box office is often the cheapest option because most don’t charge booking or postage fees. If the venue isn’t nearby, try the website.
d. Alternatives to ticket touts – If you miss the boat and a show is sold out, try scarletmist.com, which was set up by fans to allow people to buy or sell spare tickets at face value or less, and encourages a face-to-face exchange. twickets.co.uk are also fan-to-fan ticket exchange sites, restricted to face value.