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U.K. Secondary Ticket Sites Vow to Make ‘Significant Changes’ Following Government Probe

Three of the U.K.'s biggest secondary ticketing sites have agreed to make "significant changes to the way they gather and display" information to consumers following an investigation by government…

Three of the U.K.’s biggest secondary ticketing sites have agreed to make “significant changes to the way they gather and display” information to consumers following an investigation by government agency the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA).

eBay-owned StubHub and Ticketmaster-operated platforms GetMeIn! and Seatwave have all committed to providing clearer information about tickets sold through their platforms, including notifying buyers if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door. 

The sites have also pledged to make clear the name and identity of the person selling the ticket, as well as information on a ticket’s seat number and location inside a concert venue.

To do so, StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave will make it mandatory for sellers to provide the required information when listing a ticket, routinely carry out their own checks on primary ticket sellers’ websites about resale restrictions, and — according to the CMA — act promptly if event organisers tell them information is missing.

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Switzerland-headquartered Viagogo, another of the U.K.’s big four secondary ticketing sites, has refused to follow the CMA’s recommendations and has been threatened with legal action unless it “promptly” complies with the agency’s request.

“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,” said the CMA’s executive director for enforcement Michael Grenfell in a statement.

“So far Viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law,” Grenfell said, warning that the CMA was “prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts.”

Viagogo’s failure to engage with the CMA is the latest in a long line of misdemeanors and offenses by the controversial secondary ticketing company. In February last year, the website was accused of “moral repugnance” for selling tickets to an Ed Sheeran charity show in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust at hugely inflated prices. One month later, it failed to send a representative to a Parliamentary hearing into the secondary sector, leading MP Nigel Adams to slam the company for showing a “huge lack of respect.”

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Last year also saw CMA officials raid Viagogo’s London offices (as well as those of StubHub) after they refused to hand over documents about how they operate. The government agency says it also has raised concerns with Viagogo about its “historic failure” to make customers aware of a ticket’s face value and problems encountered by buyers trying to get refunds, as well as businesses speculatively advertising tickets for sale that they do not own.  

“It is disappointing, though hardly unexpected, that Viagogo continue to flout the law and mislead the British public,” said a spokesperson for campaign group FanFair Alliance, who called for the company to be prosecuted for non-compliance “at the earliest opportunity.”

Welcoming today’s announcement by the CMA, which follows an almost two-year investigation into the secondary sector, FanFair Alliance said the measures would bring greater protection to audiences “taken for a ride for too long by the biggest secondary platforms and the dedicated touts who fuel their business.” 

StubHub also welcomed the news, with a spokesperson saying that the eBay-owned company has been working closely with the CMA to ensure that “fans will have even more information about the tickets they are buying.”

“As our industry evolves,” the spokesperson stated, “this is an important step in restoring consumer confidence. Our vision is that the wider industry will embrace transparency in the interests of fans.”

Those viewed were echoed by The Fair Ticketing Alliance (FTA), a newly-launched campaign group for secondary ticketing sellers in the United Kingdom, which said it was “delighted with the swift action of StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave to improve transparency for customers.”

“It’s disappointing, however, that not all secondary website platforms have followed suit,” said FTA’s Scot Tobias making in-direct reference to Viagogo.

“Our members have stopped listing tickets on certain sites who do not comply with everything set out by the CMA. We urge those sites to do so immediately,” said Tobias in a statement.

Viagogo did not respond to requests to comment when contacted by Billboard. Ticketmaster, which operates GetMeIn! and Seatwave, declined to comment.