Digital Minister Margot James did not pull any punches when she described Viagogo as “the worst”, and urged people not to use the site. It’s not often you hear an MP directly name and shame a business for unscrupulous behaviour, so why now and what did Viagogo do?
In a bid to ensure that consumers can make an informed choice before buying,
the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently ruled against four second-hand ticket websites. The ruling bans the sites from not including all charges and fees that apply to buyers at the start of the booking process.
Despite the Minister’s strong comments, FOMO (the fear of missing out) still seems to trump common sense, and people continue to flock to touts in the hope that they can secure tickets to the next big gig.
So do you have any legal recourse or are you stuck with a ticket that’s worth less than the paper it was printed on?
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 passed new legislation, in the form of the Digital Economy Act 2017, which bans touts from using ‘bots’ to buy tickets in bulk. This legislation 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.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.