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26th February 2015

Consumer Rights Bill set to almost expose ticket touts on secondary "fan to fan" websites

If all the amendments go through (and they haven't yet) then more information about the seller and their tickets will be available and enforceable, with a £5000 maximum fine

For a long time people have been fooled into believing the quaint idea that the secondary ticket market is an industry full of people desperate to get rid of tickets for events that they genuinely can’t attend, but it’s actually saturated with touts and companies profiting from it. These secondary "fan to fan" ticket websites, like Getmein, Seatwave and Viagogo are helping touts to sell vast quantities of tickets to you at over-inflated prices anonymously and we have called for greater transparency for years so that information about who is selling the tickets is displayed so you can make your own mind up about who to buy from.

Finally it looks like we are going to get legislation to force this to happen (in part) when the Consumer Rights Bill is enacted into law. 

In brief:

Secondary ticket outlets must display full details of the tickets including the face value, the location/seat number/block/seating or standing etc where the ticket entitles you to be and any restrictions on the ticket that may prevent you from getting in.

It must be clearly identified if the person selling the ticket is in any way related to the outlet that the tickets are being sold on, or is linked to the organisation of the event. This means if the website is selling their own tickets pretending to be a normal fan, or it's an employee or part of a company linked to the outlet or if the promoter of the event is trying to sell their tickets at a higher price they have to disclose this.

There is a duty to report criminal activity being carried out on the secondary ticket outlet.

There is also a pledge to arrange for a "review of, consumer protection measures applying to the re-sale of tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events in the United Kingdom through secondary ticketing facilities" which must take place and be published within 12 months of the Bill being passed.

Despite news reports to the contrary, this is not yet law!

Sounds great, right? Well, it's a good start but it also contains protection for touts

Originally the House of Lords amendment would have required that every seller's name and company information be displayed, allowing you to see if you were buying from an organisation, tout or an individual looking to sell their tickets, but this was rejected by the House of Commons who thought that this would open up the data to abuse.

Fortunately the former Sports Minister Lord Moynihan tabled a revised set of amendments that have now gone back to the House of Lords which you can see above and included the pledge to look into the whole industry. 

The House of Commons were concerned that if organisers saw that touts were taking too many tickets away from fans who just wanted to buy their tickets at face value that they could be blacklisted and not allowed to buy tickets from them again. Really? We wouldn't want that now, would we?

The latest amendment contains a clause, "Prohibition on cancellation or blacklisting", which stops organisers taking action against touts re-selling tickets unles there are specific terms in the contract of sale of the original ticket that would allow them to do it. We'll see which tickets get these added to them and which don't.

Most worrying was the comments made by Baroness Neville-Rolfe, who basically said that restrictions put on ticket resale are not binding:

"An event organiser will not be able to cancel a ticket or blacklist a seller merely because a ticket is resold or offered for resale unless there is a term in the original sales contract that allows for this and, more importantly, the term is fair. It is our firm view that terms which prohibit resale are not always fair and therefore will not be binding on the consumer. This includes terms which seek to prohibit resale at or above a particular price. These too are not always fair and should not be thought of as binding."

Despite this we are seeing a step towards tackling the blight of the increasingly powerful might of the secondary ticket market, where vast amounts of money are being generated by taking it directly from the pockets of real music fans and going nowhere near the artists who are putting on these shows. Secondary ticket websites have a foothold in society now is going to be impossible to reverse, and until we get more legislation to tackle it it is only set to get worse.

With this in mind we welcome the amendments to the Bill, despite it's shortcomings, and hope that they get passed by the House of Lords and finally entrenched in law, potentially in the next few months.

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Consumer Rights Bill set to almost expose ticket touts on secondary "fan to fan" websites

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