For years the laws in the UK about the resale of tickets for sporting events, concerts and cultural occasions has been grey to say the least. We are all familiar with the sinking feeling of trying to get tickets for an event as soon as they go on sale, patiently watching the egg-timer on our screens going round and round, or the anxious pressing of F5 to refresh the screen only to find them all sold out when we eventually get an opportunity. Our crushing disappointment is then replaced quickly with anger as tickets appear within seconds at hugely inflated prices on resale websites.
The mystery of where these tickets come from and who exactly is selling them is soon about to change. Not only will this make consumers happier, but it should cut down on the number of fake tickets that litter the resale sites. The advent of technology has made the art of ticketing a much simpler process for those in the supply chain. The logistics of distribution onto the ticket buyer using PDF’s that can be downloaded and printed at home, or displayed on mobile devices with a unique QR or bar code has taken out the major issues of posting thousands of tickets via secure post. However, by taking out the cost and distribution issues, the problem of counterfeiting increased.
Downloadable tickets could in theory be sold multiple times, on multiple marketplaces, with detection only possible on the gate of the event itself when more than one party arrives with the same ticket. By then the rogue seller will have already taken his money and run. Not only may the buyer have paid significantly over the odds but their tickets may be as valid as a £15 note.
Consumer associations and media outlets have campaigned for years for a change in legislation to protect consumers and at last it seems that their concerns, as well as the event venues and legitimate ticket agencies have been heard. On 27th May the new Consumer Rights Act came into effect which adds a number of safeguards for ticket purchasers.
The new law will force ticket resellers to provide information about the original source and detail of the tickets being sold. Today, the websites do not have to reveal the original sale price or even the exact ticket location. Existing legislation made it illegal to give misleading information about a ticket but misleading doesn’t mean non-existent. Some resellers simply didn’t include exact ticket details and thus could not be accused of giving misleading information.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, where a ticket is offered for resale on the internet through a secondary ticketing facility, this information has to be disclosed publically. This information must be clear for the average consumer to understand. The two important facts that need to be disclosed are the original face value of a ticket and if the seller is, or is acting on behalf of, the operator of the secondary ticketing facility, a connected business or person to the original ticket agent, this has to be declared.
In addition, if anyone reports activity that could constitute ticket touting or “scalping” the secondary ticket operators have a duty to report this to the police. At the moment the most common recourse is to report rogue activity to Trading Standards.
These measures come into effect at a time when ticketing is once again in the spotlight with the release of nearly 100,000 more tickets for the biggest sporting event on these shores since the 2012 Olympic Games. The Rugby World Cup promises to be a sell-out event across the United Kingdom, with tickets for some sold-out games already appearing on the resale markets for games featuring England at multiples of five times the original face value. Whilst the organizers can control the initial supply of the tickets, what happens after they have been distributed to the initial purchasers is subject to providence. The concern here is that innocent rugby fans who are looking to be involved in the biggest sporting event of the year could end up paying massively over the odds for tickets that may not actually exist.
The new Consumer Rights Act adds a new level of security for ticket buyers, although the problem of counterfeit tickets will not be eradicated, nor will websites that simply fail to deliver tickets after a buyer has handed over his cash. Unfortunately, there are far too few tickets out there for the most popular events and far too many buyers with cash burning a hole in their pocket. Counterfeiters and rogues are simply filling the gap between supply and demand.
Where does this leave consumers? Simply put, the legitimate ticket resellers will be forced to add an additional layer of reassurance, whilst the rogues will simply continue to play outside of the law. The same advice applies even more today than before.
1. Always look at the details behind a ticket resale website. If they offer ticket packages that include travel and list authentication such as ABTA or ATOL numbers, check them out to see if they actually refer back to the organisation you are buying from. Both organisations offer a simple number verification process.
2. Check the domain name details. When was it registered? Do the contact details match up and valid? Where are the nameservers located? Is there an SSL or encryption on the website? How secure do you think your details will be if they want to take payment details online?
3. What do other people say about the organisation? Look at peer reviews on the Internet. What are people saying about their experience? Were tickets delivered on time?
Whilst any legislation that tightens up the ticket resale industry is good, there are still far too many loop-holes that rogues can exploit. The winners will still be the organisers, who sell out their events, the losers will still be the consumers who pay over face value for tickets that never exist.