HomeInsightsCompetition and Markets Authority to take enforcement action on secondary ticketing sites

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The CMA has announced that it will take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law.

After a thorough investigation into the sector, the CMA says that it has identified widespread concerns about the information people are given, and gathered evidence that it considers reveals breaches of the law.

The CMA is raising its concerns with a number of these websites and will be requiring them to take action where necessary. While it notes that some sites have already made changes since it opened the investigation, the CMA wants to ensure that all sites comply with the law and that their customers are better informed about the tickets they are buying:

  • it must be clear if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket that could result in buyers being denied access to an event;
  • people should know whom they are buying from, e.g. whether the seller is a business and/or an event organiser, and can benefit from their legal rights; and
  • customers need to be told where exactly in a venue they will be seated.

In addition, the CMA says that it will be acting to address a failure by one unnamed website to comply fully with formal commitments it had previously given to improve the information provided about tickets advertised on its site.

The CMA has also broadened the scope of its original investigation to include a number of additional issues, prompted by new information gathered in the course of its work, specifically:

  • pressure selling: whether claims made about the availability and popularity of tickets create a misleading impression or rush customers into making a buying decision;
  • difficulties for customers in getting their money back under a website’s guarantee;
  • speculative selling: where businesses advertise tickets for sale that they do not yet own and therefore may not be able to supply; and
  • concerns about whether the organisers of some sporting events have sold tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.

The CMA says that it will gather and assess evidence on these additional issues before deciding on whether further enforcement action is required.

The CMA will also be engaging with event organisers to help them to avoid being challenged for using unfair terms to restrict the resale of their tickets. The CMA has today proposed a number of steps that the industry could take in order to stop consumers losing out. The CMA is inviting feedback from the industry on this proposed approach. To read the CMA’s press release in full, click here.