Have you ever been straight onto Ticketmaster’s website at the designated release time for tickets, yet been left disappointed as all tickets have sold out in what feels like an instant? I know I have.
One of the main reasons for this is due to specialised software available to ticket touts who sweep up the majority of the supply within seconds of them going on sale. Those same tickets then appear at sometimes five or ten times the price on the secondary market (Seatwave, Viagogo etc.) which is perhaps unsurprisingly worth an estimated £1 billion a year.
Then there is the problem of ticket fraud. A client was only last month recounting to me the tale of a sold out gig she went to recently, the tickets for which she had paid well over the odds for through a secondary ticket website and where the only ticket information she had been provided with pre-gig was to ‘meet Dave under the left hand stairs by the entrance.’*
However, it is hoped that new measures introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA”) will help counter such issues. From 27th May, a buyer must be given precise information about the ticket they are purchasing (not currently legally required), including:
The aim is to prevent the sale of both counterfeit tickets and speculative tickets being sold, sometimes before they’re commercially available from event organisers.
An event organiser will not now be permitted to cancel a ticket nor blacklist the seller merely because the seller has re-sold the ticket or offered it for re-sale unless this right is included in the original ticket terms and conditions. Ticket reselling companies will also be required to report criminal activity.
Whilst consumers will benefit from having access to more information about the ticket they intend to purchase, there is no limitation on what price tickets can be resold for nor are there any requirements to reimburse costs incurred from attending an event if a ticket is fraudulent. However as part of the reforms the Secretary of State is obliged to report on consumer protection measures applying to the re-sale of tickets within 12 months, so perhaps further protections may follow.
Local authority trading standards will be responsible for enforcing the new provisions and will have the power to impose fines on sellers and secondary ticket platforms who fail to comply.
This is the first element of a whole raft of consumer protection legislation coming into force this year. The balance of the CRA will come into force on 1 October and further updates are to follow.
*In this instance ‘Dave’ did actually meet her as he said he would and she had an amazing time.