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Competition authority to probe illegal ticket sales

Photo: Gary Glaser/Shutterstock
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An investigation into illegal ticketing activity will be carried out by the Competition and Markets Authority.

It comes amid ongoing debate around misuse of the secondary ticketing market. The CMA said its investigation was prompted by suspected breaches of consumer protection law.

The investigation follows an initial review, carried out earlier this year, of the four main secondary ticketing websites; Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo.

CMA said the review revealed wider concerns about information provision and compliance with consumer protection law across the whole sector.

The law requires certain information to be listed when a ticket is being resold. However, there are concerns that people are not getting the full range of information required by law when buying secondary tickets.

The CMA – an independent consumer authority – will specifically look at what information is provided on a seller’s identity, and any connection they may have with the event organisers or the platform itself.

It will also check whether there are any restrictions on the use of resold tickets, which could result in the person being denied access to an event.

The investigation will ensure that customers are made aware of information they are entitled to, and that any breaches of consumer law are subject to enforcement action.

Announcing the investigation, CMA acting chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “A night out at a concert or a trip to a big match is something that millions of people look forward to. So it’s important they know who they are buying from and whether there are any restrictions that could stop them using the ticket.”

She added: ”We have heard concerns about a lack of transparency over who is buying up tickets from the primary market. We also think it is essential that consumers who buy tickets from the secondary market are made aware if there is a risk they will be turned away at the door.”

Last month, the government said it was considering introducing legislation around secondary ticketing to outlaw the use of ‘bots’ – software that harvests large numbers of tickets to then be sold at inflated prices.

The announcement has been welcomed by bodies including the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse.

Sharon Hodgson, co-chair of the latter group, said: “The non-compliance evidence found by the CMA backs up the often daily accounts, both online and in the press, that fans are being ripped off or not getting all the information they need when buying off secondary website.

“This is one part of a multifaceted problem in this broken market. We know that non-compliance is rife within the market; now that the Consumer Rights Act has been on the statute book for over a year, it is paramount that enforcement action is taken seriously and swiftly.”

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