The Government has announced new guidance to protect customers against ticket touting.
As part of the Consumer Rights Act, ticket resellers will be required to provide purchasers with additional detailed information about tickets - including the location of seats, disclosure of any restrictions and the original face value.
For the first time, resellers will also have to supply the unique ticket number (UTN) if the event organiser or primary seller specifies one, helping to identify standing tickets, as well as the location of seated tickets. Those that breach the regulations face fines of up to £5,000 for each offence. The new rules will come into effect from April.
“All too often people are left feeling ripped off when buying tickets from resale websites," said consumer minister Andrew Griffiths. "Whether it’s a major music festival or a stadium concert, people want to know they’re paying a fair price for tickets to see the events they love.
“We are already taking steps to crack down on touts using “bots” to bulk buy tickets for resale and the CMA is investigating suspected breaches of consumer protection law online and today we are going even further, making it easier for consumers to understand what they are buying to help save them from rip off ticket prices.
“Later this year, we will also publish a consumer green paper which will examine how we can help people to engage with markets to find the best deals.”
Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, added: “We want real fans to get the chance to see their favourite stars at a fair price. That is why we are clamping down on touts using bots to buy huge numbers of tickets, only to sell them on at rip-off prices. Today's guidance will give consumers even greater protection and transparency in the secondary market, helping Britain's live events scene to continue to thrive."
Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, the music industry campaign against industrial-scale ticket touting, was buoyed by the development. "If properly enforced, we believe these updates will better protect UK audiences and event organisers," he said. "They should also provide greater clarity to secondary ticketing platforms of their legal responsibilities, and increase overall transparency in what is frequently a murky and under-regulated sector."
Google's new global transparency regulations on ticket resellers came into force last week. The recent AudienceNet/Music Ally Ticked Off report highlighted that a significant proportion of would-be ticket buyers use Google to find tickets, while research by anti-touting pressure group FanFair Alliance has illustrated how all the main secondary ticketing platforms employ paid search to dominate Google rankings.
In December, National Trading Standards confirmed it has carried out a series of raids as part of its investigation into the secondary ticketing market. It has been working with the Competition And Markets Authority (CMA), which announced last month that it will take enforcement action against resale sites suspected of breaking consumer protection law following a long-running investigation.
Last month, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has announced a new inquiry into live music. The inquiry will focus on secondary ticketing, incorporating the findings of the previous committee’s investigation, which was cut short by the 2017 General Election. MPs will again invite ticket reselling companies such as Viagogo, which infamously no-showed a Commons session last March, to contribute evidence.
Written evidence can be submitted via the live music inquiry evidence portal on the Committee’s website until 5pm on February 28.