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Consumers Sold Out? The trouble with ticket resale

Following the release of their ticket resale report last month, Tilly South, Policy and Campaigns Advisor at CHOICE in Australia, provides a campaign update and explains why CHOICE are calling for urgent reforms to make the global ticket resale industry fairer for consumers.  


After large numbers of consumer complaints about ticket resellers and political will in a number of markets to shake up the secondary ticketing market, CHOICE began researching a report on the problems consumers face when buying resold tickets.

We joined with Consumer NZ to write the report, and collected case studies across three markets with fellow Consumers International members Which? and Consumer NZ. In our report, ‘Sold out: consumers and the ticket resale market’, we identified major problems faced by consumers in this industry. This followed on from an investigation by CHOICE journalist Daniel Graham and a complaint to the Australian regulator about the conduct of two ticket resellers, Viagogo and TicketmasterResale.

As a part of our ‘Ticked Off’ campaign, we collected over 1000 case studies from fans who had problems with ticket resale websites, including Viagogo, GETMEIN!, TicketmasterResale and Stubhub. We found some of the major problems encountered by our case studies were:

  • Paying more than face value
  • Hidden fees and drip pricing
  • The area, seat or any restrictions not being accurately described
  • Poor customer service
  • Credit card being overcharged, or in some cases charged in a random foreign currency
  • Fraudulent or duplicated tickets, and tickets never arriving

 

These websites also trick customers into thinking they are the official ticket seller. In fact, 68% of our case studies didn’t even know they purchased their ticket from a reseller until they received the ticket! Many of our case studies had found their ticket via a Google search where companies, including Viagogo, pay big bucks to feature at the top of the search results, calling themselves “official”.

We’ve made recommendations to the Australian Government to make ticket resale fairer for consumers, as well as suggested ways in which industry can make this market better and the Australian regulator, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission, has announced it is taking infamous ticket reseller Viagogo to court after receiving more than 400 complaints about the company in just 12 months.
 

So what are the changes we need to see a better ticket resale market?

From our findings we suggested the following fixes to make sure ticket resale is fairer for consumers:

  • Consumers need better information to help them decide if they want to use a resale site. Promoters, venues, and ticketing companies should specify the number of tickets available for pre-sale and general sale, the number of events scheduled for a tour and the number of seats in a venue.
  • Ticketing companies should develop and invest in new technologies to distribute tickets, such as “verified fans” programs, to curb the business of professional scalpers.
  • Ticketing companies, artists and promoters should invest in innovations to reduce fraud, for example by allowing name changes on tickets or by developing better ticketing systems.
  • Resale websites should clearly state they are ticket resellers and remove any dubious “official” claims in advertising. Resale websites should also remove misleading statements such as “last tickets left” and “selling fast”.
  • Resale websites should clearly state tickets’ details during the booking process, including, where relevant, the seat and row number, venue, original price, and restrictions.

 

Read the full report, ‘Sold out: consumers and the ticket resale market’, and sign up to make ticketing fairer at choice.com.au/soldout.