How to deal with ticket touts

Sarah Garner, solicitor at DAS Law, explains where the law stands and how to avoid being ripped off and on the wrong side of the fence.

4th June 2018

Festival season is upon us, which is great news for those of us with tickets, but for those without this can mean experiencing the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out)! In order to gain entry to concerts that have already been sold out, people are repeatedly turning to ticket websites for the chance to see their favourite singers.

But many consumers have been turned away from the arena or left out of pocket for the actions of rogue ticket sellers, and recently the Digital Minister, Margot James, urged the public not to use Viagogo, one of the four second-hand ticket websites that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) took action against earlier in the year.

The ASA ruling banned second-hand ticket websites from not including all charges and fees that apply to buyers at the start of the booking process to ensure that consumers can make an informed choice before buying.

Sarah Garner, solicitor at DAS Law explains where the law stands and how to avoid being ripped off and getting on the wrong side of the fence…

Do I have any recourse if I bought a ticket from a tout or a reselling website and was refused entry to the event?

You can be refused entry to an event if you have purchased a ticket from a tout or reselling website if the ticket states ‘no resale’ or is a counterfeit ticket. In these circumstances, you would be looking to argue a breach of contract against the seller to claim your costs back.

I would recommend that you check the terms and conditions on your tickets or booking information provided for the event that you wanted to attend. If it is a genuine ticket and the reason for refusing you entry is not within the stated terms and conditions, you can argue the venue or organisers have broken the contract by denying you entry and you can potentially pursue them for a refund.

Are ticket touts still allowed to operate in the UK?

The general resale of football tickets is illegal under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 unless the resale is authorised by the organiser of the match. However, the re-selling of live music tickets for profit is not against the law in the UK.

Professional touts have commonly used specialised software (known as ‘bots’) to automatically bulk buy tickets the instant they are made available to the general public. These are then listed and sold for profit on reselling websites.

The Government has recently passed new legislation, in the form of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which bans touts from using ‘bots’ to buy tickets in bulk. This new legislation has made it a criminal offence to use automated technology to purchase large amounts of tickets to then be sold on at inflated prices.

Am I better protected if I buy tickets from a ticket reselling websites compared to ticket touts?

The best protection will be offered by purchasing tickets from a reseller authorised by the event organiser.

How can I protect myself from ticket scams?

The best way to protect yourself from ticket scams is by contacting the event organiser in the first instance. They should either be able to supply tickets or direct you to authorised agencies, these are the official agents who have agreements with promoters or venues to sell tickets for events.  Official ticket sellers are usually listed on the event’s official website.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 stipulates that certain information should be provided where a person resells a ticket for a recreational, sporting or cultural event in the United Kingdom through a secondary ticketing facility.

When purchasing a ticket through a tout or reselling site you should ensure that you are made aware of the following pieces of information:

  • The face value of the ticket
  • Where the ticket is, such as a particular seat or standing area at the venue for the event and the information necessary to enable you to identify that seat or standing area
  • Information about any restriction(s) which limits use of the ticket to persons of a particular description

Purchasing tickets with a credit or debit card should be considered because if you experience difficulty with a ticket seller you may be able to get a refund through your credit or debit card provider via a chargeback scheme or Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

What is my legal position in claiming a refund if the event is cancelled?

If the event you have booked is cancelled, rescheduled or has changed location, you are entitled to a refund of at least the face value of the ticket. If the face value has been reduced by the organiser, the refund will be for the discounted face value price paid.

If an event is rescheduled to another date, your ticket should be valid. If you can’t make the rescheduled date, then you’re entitled to a full refund from the organiser. The ticket seller is responsible for giving you a refund for tickets to a cancelled event.

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