Only three people have been responsible for more than two thirds of festivals and outdoor events tickets listed for sale on online secondary ticketing platform Viagogo, according to an investigation by anti-ticket touting organisation FanFair Alliance for ITV News.
The research found that fewer than 10% of tickets for outdoor events listed for sale on Viagogo were being sold by ordinary consumers.
Over a three-month period researchers examined 11,000 tickets being sold on Viagogo for 174 festivals. FanFair found that more than two-thirds of the tickets, with a combined face value of around £730,000, were being sold by three ‘traders’ for an estimated £1.7 million.
Festival operators confirmed to ITV that it was not possible for many of the tickets being sold by Viagogo to be in the possession of the ‘traders’ at the time they were listed on the platform, with event organisers stating that they had no record of the sellers buying any tickets at all.
Confirming ‘speculative selling’ is against the law, Trading Standards National eCrime co-ordinator Mike Andrews told ITV, “I think there’s a basic principle you can’t buy or sell something you don’t legally own.”
Following an investigation into Viagogo by the Competition and Markets Authority in 2018, and a subsequent court order against it, in August last year the CMA urged the Government to bolster the laws on ticket touting, and make the sale of tickets on secondary platforms such as Viagogo subject to tighter rules.
In a piece for Access, FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb suggested four measures would end “rampant” online ticket touting:
- Promoters, ticket companies and artists must make crystal clear – at the point of sale – that tickets are for “consumers only” and not for “traders or commercial resellers”. And they need to start properly promoting their approved resale services.
- Google must act responsibly. It should cease accepting advertising from rogue companies and do more to help its users find “official” sources of tickets. If it won’t do this, then legislators should use the Online Safety Bill to force change.
- The CMA should revise its court order and make Viagogo liable for tickets listed by “traders” on their platform – ensuring there is evidence that those tickets have actually been purchased. This would markedly reduce instances of “speculative ticketing” (i.e. fraud).
- Government should accept the recommendations made by the CMA in August 2021 and strengthen laws around ticket resale. This would include a ban on resellers selling more tickets for an event than they can legally buy on the primary market.
He said, “None of this is rocket science and none of these changes are particularly controversial, but if enacted then we could finally move forward again, making it easier for customers to resell a ticket while preventing exploitation of British audiences who supported the live event industry in its hour of need.”