Buying tickets for concerts and sports events via resale sites has become a common practice for many people. Sites like Stubhub, Viagogo, Getmein and Seatwave claim to be able to offer usable resold tickets to anyone who wants to go to a sold out event. However, recently these businesses have come under a lot more scrutiny for their exorbitant pricing and rather lax approach to consumer law. A recent Advertising Standards Authority ruling now means that resale sites are going to have to make some changes in the way that they operate.
What’s the problem with ticket resale sites?
A number of different issues have brought resale sites to the attention of the advertising watchdog. Among these are problems for ticket purchasers that include:
Tickets that are being resold at hugely inflated prices
The overuse of these sites by ticket touts looking for profit, as opposed to individuals looking to resell tickets they can’t use
Enormous booking and delivery fees
The practice of many of these sites to hide additional costs information from ticket buyers until it’s too late
Tickets purchased via resale sites are often unusable because many of them must be redeemed with the ID that was registered with the original ticket purchase
A lack of refunds for those who feel they paid much more than intended and want their money back
However, it’s not just those looking to buy tickets via resale sites who have experienced issues but sellers too. In some cases the resale site has simply cancelled a ticket transaction without explanation, leaving a seller with no way of reestablishing contact with the person who potentially wanted to buy. With all these risks associated with buying tickets you really need to take care, and think twice before borrowing money to pay for them!
What has the ASA ruled?
The ASA now requires that information about costs, such as booking and delivery fees, is presented up front to consumers. So, this cannot simply be added on at the last minute when a customer is inputting bank details. The ASA has also outlined that resale sites must no longer describe themselves as “official partners” to specific events, which some have been doing without any basis for it. This was the case with one resale site that claimed to be an official partner for Ed Sheeran tickets – until Ed Sheeran announced that no resale site tickets would be accepted at his latest round of tour concerts. Finally, resale sites will not be able to offer any guarantees, such as ‘guaranteed entry’ with their tickets. This is mainly because so many consumers with resale tickets have found themselves refused entry. For example, one group of rugby fans who purchased tickets for a Twickenham game were refused entry to the game itself when the stewards asked for ID to go with the tickets. Because the fans’ ID did not match that of the ticket purchaser they did not get in – and could not get a refund.
What’s the response from ticket resale websites?
So far, some have stated public willingness to conform to the ASA ruling. However, it’s worth looking at the controversial history that resale sites have to see just how unscrupulous they can be about profiting from resold tickets. For example, resale sites have in the past been criticised for profiteering from charity events and holding on to refunds that should have been given to fans who had been overcharged. Many people believe the sites have repeatedly breached consumer rights laws and at least one has refused to attend a select committee hearing on the topic.
So, how can you buy or sell tickets safely?
Look first at whether there are any tickets left for the event. Sometimes fans have paid double for resold tickets when there were still standard price tickets left.
Research the original price of the ticket. It’s important to have a starting point when it comes to deciding how much you’re going to pay.
Make sure you know whether the event or concert will accept a ticket without the ID of the person who originally purchased it.
If you’re going to use a resale site then make sure resale tickets haven’t been banned for the event you want to go to.
If you’re selling then look at social media or classified sites like Gumtree. If you’re going to make the sale this way then use an escrow service where you can see the money has been paid in and will be released once the tickets have been handed over. It’s often better to send tickets than to hand them over in person as you’ll have a way of proving receipt.
Alex Hartley is a keen advocate of improving personal finance skills. She's worked at Solution Loans since 2014 and written hundreds of articles about how people can manage their money better. Her interest in personal finance goes way back to...Read more about Alex Hartley