Ticket reselling website Viagogo has been warned it could face ‘prompt’ legal action after it failed to make changes outlined by the Competition and Markets Authority.
The watchdog said rival firms, Get Me In, Stub Hub and Seatwave, had all agreed to change the way they sell tickets and provide more information to potential customers.
This includes telling people which seats they are buying, who is selling the tickets, and if there is a risk a customer might be turned away at the door.
Changes: Get Me In, Stub Hub and Seatwave have all agreed to change the way they sell tickets
The three rival websites have agreed to make it mandatory for sellers to provide this information when listing tickets, to carry out their own checks on primary ticket sellers’ websites around restrictions when reselling and to act promptly if event organisers think information is missing.
The watchdog raised concerns about how this information is displayed on Viagogo and noted the site’s historic failure to comply with the commitment given in 2015 to display the face value of tickets to customers.
It now says if the reseller doesn’t make the changes and promptly commit to addressing these concerns, it will take action through the courts.
Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s executive director for enforcement, said: ‘Thousands of people use secondary ticketing websites to buy tickets for concerts, theatre and other events.
‘So it’s crucial they are told what they are buying, from whom they are buying it, and whether their ticket might not actually get them into the event.
Our readers have been charged hundreds of pounds more than they expected to pay for appearances by artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran
‘We welcome the changes already made and new commitments we’ve been given by StubHub, Seatwave and GetMeIn! to improve the information on offer, so that people can better judge whether they’re getting a good deal.
‘But all secondary ticketing websites must play by the rules and treat their customers fairly if anything goes wrong. We take failure to comply with consumer protection law very seriously.
‘So far Viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law. We are prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts.’
Following on from a year-long investigation into the market, the CMA said last November some resellers could be breaking the law by not supplying the right information to potential customers.
It found that the four leading websites were not telling customers about restrictions on using resold tickets, where in a venue they would be sitting, or the identity of the seller they were buying the tickets from.
Tickets for Adele’s concert at Wembley appeared on secondary sites before they went on sale on her official website
There were a number of issues raised about Viagogo specifically including a historic failure to fully comply with a formal commitment made in 2015 to make customers more aware of the face value of tickets.
It was also found to be making potentially misleading statements on the website, customers had reported problems in getting their money back under its guarantee, and businesses were advertising tickets on its site which they didn’t yet own.
A month ago the Advertising Standards Agency also told reselling websites they could not publish misleading prices and had to make the total price clear from the start, and not use a cheaper price which then increased by the time consumers had to pay.
Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: ‘We have repeatedly exposed secondary ticketing websites, including Viagogo, for playing fast and loose with the rules and putting people at risk of getting a raw deal on tickets so we welcome the competition authority taking strong action.
‘The agreements reached with some of the biggest players in the market must now lead to much greater transparency, so consumers have a better chance of getting the best tickets for popular events at fair prices.’
While Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, said: ‘Today’s CMA announcement is vindication for the FanFair Alliance campaign to overhaul the online ticket resale market.
‘UK audiences have been taken for a ride for too long by the biggest secondary platforms and the dedicated touts who fuel their business.
‘It is disappointing, though hardly unexpected, that Viagogo continue to flout the law and mislead the British public.
‘If they fail to follow their competitors and make similar commitments, then we expect to see prosecution for non-compliance at the earliest opportunity.’
We approached Viagogo for a comment but at the time of publishing it had not responded.
Before tickets for his 2018 tour went on sale, Ed Sheeran said Twickets was the only site permitted to resell his tickets, and that tickets resold via any other would be invalid
Earlier this month we published a story about the streams of emails we had received from angry customers following on from our investigation into Viagogo’s rip-off tactics by our sister publication, Money Mail.
It included one Grandmother, Pauline Leppard, who paid £222 for three tickets for Dancing on Ice but this jumped to £609 when she got to the final payment screen, even though the face value of these tickets was just £65 each.
Another reader, Andrea Exley, from Hull, bought two tickets for an Ed Sheeran concert in Manchester on May 26, at a cost of £335.51.
But she then found out tickets bought on the secondary ticket market were invalid unless resold on the website Twickets, which lets fans buy and sell tickets at face value.