Some of the U.K.’s biggest secondary ticketing sites, including Viagogo, StubHub and Seatwave, are routinely breaking the law regarding the resale of music and entertainment tickets, according to Which?, an independent consumer research organization.
London-based Which examined more than 200 ticket listings — a relatively small sample size, it must be said — across the four main secondary ticketing sites operating in the U.K. (Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave) and says it “found numerous examples” of tickets being sold unlawfully. Looking specifically at ticket listings for Beyonce’s Formation tour, upcoming shows by British comedian Catherine Tate and theatre shows Jersey Boys, Magic of the Musicals and Wicked the Musical, Which found that Viagogo failed to consistently list the face value ticket price for Beyonce or Catherine Tate tickets, despite it being mandatory for ticket sellers to enter the exact face value when listing a ticket.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 dictates that consumers of secondary tickets for a recreational, sporting or cultural event in the United Kingdom must be made aware of the ticket’s original face value, any restrictions it contains and, where appropriate, information on whether it is a standing or seating ticket. In the case of latter, the seller is legally required to enable the buyer to identify the location of any seat or standing area. The Act also requires sellers on secondary ticketing sites to notify buyers if they are employees or “engaged by an operator of the secondary ticketing facility.” Despite these legal requirements, Which’s researchers (posing as both buyers and sellers) found multiple examples of all four secondary ticketing sites flouting regulations and failing to provide buyers with key information, including row and seat numbers and the face value of the ticket.
The consumer rights organization also found that none of the listings it checked on Viagogo showed seat numbers. Nor did a “large number of the listings” on StubHub or Seatwave, “only row numbers and/or section numbers.” Get Me In! fared little better with only one listing providing a seat number. On all four services, sellers could list tickets without providing the seat number associated with the ticket, as legally required, according to Which. It additionally found that Viagogo did not require sellers to detail any restrictions when listing the ticket for sale.
“It is clear that t?he protections put in place by the Consumer Rights Act aren’t being ?followed by some of the biggest players in the market and no action is being taken against them,” said Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at Which?, announcing the findings. “The Government must crack down on bad practice so that people know what they’re buying and don’t get ripped off,” she went on to say.
Ticketmaster, which owns Get Me In! and Seatwave, declined to comment when contacted by Billboard. Viagogo could not be reached at press time. In a statement issued to Which, a spokesperson for eBay-owned StubHub said that “any seller listing a ticket” on the platform “must at all times comply with applicable laws and regulations. In addition, we actively prompt sellers to provide information on face value and row and seat number.”
The spokesperson went on to say that there are, however, “instances where sellers may not have access to this information at the time of listing, as some primary vendors do not provide this at the time of purchase.”
On May 26, the British government is due to publish its review into the secondary ticketing market. Chaired by Professor Michael Waterson, the review was originally announced as part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and has received submissions from promoters, primary and secondary ticket sellers and online ticket sites.
A petition calling for “tougher sanctions for resale websites” set up by Mumford and Sons’ manager Adam Tudhope and backed by the band has so far received just under 40,000 signatures.