The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), a non-ministerial government department that scrutinises business competition, has started what it calls an “enforcement investigation” – looking at suspected breaches of consumer protection law occurring on ticket reselling websites.
Central to the CMA’s investigation will be deciding whether websites such as StubHub, Seatwave and Viagogo will have to provide extra information explaining that buying a ticket second hand does not necessarily mean a customer will be admitted to the venue.
Back in 2015, the CMA introduced new rules that required each website engaged with ticket reselling publish details of the block, row and seat number alongside the original face value and any restrictions. Now, there are further worries about transparency for customers – and the CMA may soon begin enforcing fines.
Acting CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “We have heard concerns about a lack of transparency over who is buying up tickets from the primary market. We also think that it is essential that those consumers who buy tickets from the secondary market are made aware if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door.
“We have therefore decided to open a sector-wide investigation to ensure that customers are made aware of important information that they are legally entitled to. If we find breaches of consumer law, we will take enforcement action.”
The four main ticket reselling websites (StubHub, Seatwave, Viagogo and GetMeIn) have already declared each will provide greater information on costs, but CMA’s next focus has turned to making sure customers do not miss out on the event they’ve purchased tickets for.
Consumer watchdog Which? has responded to CMA’s statement by saying it expects the organisation to take “strong action” against ticket reselling sites which are “not playing by the rules”.
Vickie Sheriff, director of campaigns and communications at Which?, commented: “On numerous occasions we have found tickets being sold unlawfully, so we welcome the competition authorities taking action to tackle this.
“No one can know the real value of their ticket if they haven’t been given the information on face value, where the seat is located and any restrictions. Tickets also shouldn’t be fed straight into secondary sites at consumers’ expense.”
The new CMA enforcement investigation will consider whether both the businesses selling tickets and the secondary ticketing platforms advertising them are “failing to provide the full range of information in breach of the law and, if so, take enforcement action”.