Business

Consumers face ticket resale 'stitch-up', says Which?

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Consumer group Which? has called for a crack-down on ticket resale sites, arguing consumers face a "stitch-up".

The group spent eight weeks monitoring four of the biggest secondary ticketing websites.

It says it found examples of anti-consumer tactics, including tickets for sale before the official release date, and resale restrictions being ignored.

The industry said it had "high levels of consumer protection" and was "committed to transparency".

Which? said that, while it was not illegal to resell tickets for a profit, it was likely that the industrial scale of the unusual selling patterns it found were only possible because of "botnets" - computer software that buys up tickets so fast that it makes it hard for genuine fans to get hold of them.

It added that rules under which consumers must be told of any restrictions on the tickets, seating details and the face value price were repeatedly flouted.

'Inflated prices'

During the monitoring period, Which? found:

  • Tickets appearing on resale sites before being officially released
  • Tickets appearing simultaneously on primary and resale sites
  • Suspicious ticket release patterns (eg tickets on sale within minutes of a priority pre-sale)
  • Resale restrictions ignored (eg neglecting to mention that photo ID was required on the door)

"People get rightly frustrated losing out on popular tickets, particularly when they end up on sale at the same time on secondary sites at higher prices," said Richard Lloyd, executive director at Which?

"We need the government review to crack down on those who resell tickets at inflated prices on an industrial scale," he said.

The ticketing site StubHub said it was "committed to transparency".

"It is very clear in our terms and conditions that sellers are not permitted to list or sell tickets that they do not own or that have not been allocated to them, known as speculative selling.

"If we are made aware of speculative selling on our site for specific events, we will investigate and remove the listings where appropriate.

"However, there are many cases where fans will have access to priority tickets in advance of an official on-sale and this is one reason why tickets can be listed so quickly."

Guarantees

Meanwhile Ticketmaster, which owns Get Me In and Seatwave, said the resale market in the UK had "developed high levels of consumer protection over recent years, with incidents of fraud being very rare."

"Ticketmaster's resale marketplaces, Get Me In and Seatwave, offer fans full consumer protection, with guarantees of full refund or ticket replacement," the statement continued.

"We are concerned that Which?'s statement and advice risks confusing consumers at a time when we, the industry, are working to educate consumers on how to avoid websites which offer little or no protection," it concluded.

The government is currently carrying out a review into the issue.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said: "It's important that consumers get a fair deal on secondary ticketing.

"We have recently launched a call for evidence on the secondary ticketing market and the evidence provided by Which? will be helpful. We welcome views on how best to protect consumers in this area."

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