The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said Ticket resale websites such as Viagogo and Stubhub should face tighter rules as current laws mean it is not possible to act swiftly and effectively against touts.
The CMA’s recommendations include a ban on platforms allowing resellers to sell more tickets for an event than they can legally buy from the primary market.
The regulator also highlighted the fraudulent technique of speculative selling, where touts advertise tickets they do not yet have. It recommended that the platforms are fully responsible for incorrect information about listed tickets.
It also recommended a new licensing system that would enable an authority to act quickly to take down websites withdraw a business’s right to operate in the sector and impose substantial fines.
The CMA said it has taken “strong action” over recent years against secondary ticketing websites to tackle non-compliance in the sector, including the failure to provide important and accurate information to consumers.
It said this has included requiring Viagogo and StubHub to remove misleading messaging about ticket availability and to tell customers where the tickets they buy might lead to them being turned away at the door.
The CMA senior director for consumer protection George Lusty said the websites are now “worlds apart” from before the regulator took action.
He said, “While it is clear that concerns about the sector remain, there are limits to what the CMA and other enforcers can do with their current powers. With live music and sporting events starting back up we want the Government to take action to strengthen the current laws and introduce a licensing regime for secondary ticketing platforms.
“If adopted, these proposals will help prevent people getting ripped off by unscrupulous resellers online and we stand ready to help the Government to implement them.”
A Viagogo spokesperson said, “We welcome the exposure this gives to the strength of Viagogo’s customer protections and the recognition of the importance regulated platforms play in ensuring customer confidence when accessing live events.
“The CMA notes their report is not as a result of customer complaints and, moreover, that a ban on secondary platforms would lead to an explosion in black market sources for tickets.
“We have argued strongly that the UK should grasp the opportunity of the Covid-19 recovery to improve the events industry and strengthen market collaboration between all players, including event organisers, venues, primary and resale platforms.
“We are open to all ideas as to how that is achieved but it must be carefully considered and focused on improving the industry’s service for customers. There is a need to address the failings of the primary market and we need to explore the risks of new and unregulated online resale channels.”
A spokesperson for StubHub said, “As the CMA report indicates, consumers benefit from regulated secondary ticket platforms, like StubHub.
“We have a long history of collaborating with regulators in the interests of our fans and will continue to support measures that promote a secure, transparent, and competitive ticket marketplace. We believe that the tools are in place today, through existing law, to protect consumers and address the potential issues highlighted by the CMA.
“We encourage any ongoing regulatory discussions to be comprehensive and include a review of practices by primary ticket sellers that disadvantage fans such as restrictions on transferability or the way tickets are allocated for sale.”