StubHub, Seatwave Under Scrutiny (Again) in Latest British Gov't Probe of Secondary Market

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Brian Johnson and Angus Young of AC/DC perform during the 'Rock or Bust' World Tour, at Wembley Stadium on July 4, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.

Less than a month after a British government-led review called for tighter scrutiny of the secondary ticketing market, the sector finds itself, once again, under investigation.

The latest review into the U.K.'s four leading secondary ticket platforms – Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo – is being conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority and is focusing on whether they are "providing adequate information to consumers" in accordance with "their legal obligations."

The CMA compliance review, which quietly began this week, is the latest stage of a long-running British government enquiry into the secondary ticketing market that began in 2012 with an investigation of the leading operators from the Office of Fair Trading. As part of that process, Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo provided undertakings to build on their existing practices and provide improved information to buyers about the tickets listed on their sites.

Viagogo and StubHub Among Secondary Ticketing Sites Found To Be Breaking U.K. Law

Since those undertakings were announced in March 2015, additional legislation has come into force, including The Consumer Rights Act 2015, which dictates that secondary vendors must notify buyers of a ticket's original price value and information on its seat number and location inside the concert venue, as well as whether the seller is connected to the secondary ticket platform or the event organiser.

As a result, the CMA is now looking into whether all four platforms are operating as legally required and are asking anyone with relevant information about their practices to get in touch with a cut-off date for responses of July 12.

The information gathered during this review will help determine whether further action is warranted, says the CMA, which points out that is yet to make any decisions about whether consumer rights have been breached.

The CMA enquiry follows the May 26 publication of Professor Michael Waterson's long-awaited report into the secondary ticketing market, which found that vendors were regularly failing to provide adequate information on tickets and that platforms such as Viagogo and Seatwave should "take more responsibility and undertake greater checks to identify traders."

Ticketing Execs and Others React to U.K. Secondary Ticketing Review

If little progress is made using this voluntary course of action, Waterson warned that the authorities should consider alternative and stricter approaches to regulating the market.  

The 227-page report also recommended that primary ticket vendors need to implement stronger prevention methods -- such as confirmed identity software -- to stop scalpers using botnets to mass purchase tickets with a view to resale.