The UK’s Consumer and Market Authority has announced that it will take actions against secondary ticketing sites that it says have violated consumer protection laws. The CMA has stated that they “will be acting to address a failure by one website to comply fully with formal commitments it had previously given to improve the information provided about tickets advertised on its site.”
According to BBC, GetMeIn and Seatwave said they have complied with the law since November of 2016. StubHub UK and Viagogo are the other two resale companies being investigated by the consumer watchdog organization.
CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said in the announcement “Secondary ticketing websites can offer an important service – by allowing people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute or giving them a chance to re-sell tickets they can no longer use. But our investigation has identified concerns that the law protecting consumers is being broken.”
In 2015, the CMA requested that resale sites StubHub UK, Viagogo, GetMeIn, and Seatwave provide consumers with adequate information to purchase tickets to live events. The following year, the CMA launched an enforcement investigation when at least one of the four sites was not cooperating with the specified guidelines that included informing the buyer who the seller is, any connections the seller may have with the platform or event organizers, whether there are any restrictions on the use of resold tickets which could result in the person being denied access to the event, and where a seat is located in the venue.
After a almost year-long investigation that saw the CMA raid the StubHub UK and Viagogo offices, the agency has announced that they have “identified widespread concerns about the information people are given, and gathered evidence which it considers reveal breaches of the law.”
“We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them,” said Coscelli. “We will use the full range of our powers to get the right outcome for these sites’ customers – including taking action through the courts if needed.”
Prompted by new information discovered during the investigation, the CMA has broadened its scope to address additional issues consumers face with secondary sites. The additional issues include: pressure selling – whether claims made about the availability and popularity of tickets create a misleading impression or rush customers into making a buying decision; difficulties for customers in getting their money back under a website’s guarantee; speculative selling – where businesses advertise tickets for sale that they do not yet own and therefore may not be able to supply; and concerns about whether the organizers of some sporting events have sold tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.
The consumer watchdog is requiring the sites to take actions to address these concerns and, according to IQ Mag, will have a deadline of spring 2018 to comply or risk legal action.
Anti-touting group FanFair Alliance responded to the announcement by stating that “it has taken far too long to get here,” but that the enforcement actions justifies what their community has been campaigning for.
“Beyond suspected breaches of consumer protection law, we believe the largest ticket resale platforms are riddled with bad practice, including speculative ticket listings, pressure selling and collusion with large-scale ticket touts,” the statement reads. The organization added ” If they fail to deliver root-and-branch reforms, we expect the largest resale platforms to face significant consequences.”
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