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CMA raids UK Viagogo, StubHub offices

The CMA, which is investigating four secondary ticketers, has seized documents in raids on Viagogo UK's HQ at Cannon Place and StubHub's offices on Tottenham Court Rd

By IQ on 10 Nov 2017

Cannon Place, Cannon Street, London

Viagogo's UK offices are at Cannon Place, Cannon Street, London


image © Cannon Place

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has reportedly raided the London offices of Viagogo and eBay’s StubHub as part of its ongoing investigation into alleged breaches of UK consumer law by secondary ticketing companies.

According to the Guardian’s Rob Davies, officials from the British competition watchdog seized information relating to the two companies’ relationships with prominent ticket touts, and whether those resellers benefit from privileged relationships with the sites at the expense of ordinary fans.

The CMA is believed to have issued ‘information notices’ to four secondary ticketing sites, demanding information about their relationships with touts. Ticketmaster, which owns Seatwave and Get Me In! – the other two sites at the centre of CMA’s investigation – reportedly turned over the requested details; CMA officials raided Viagogo’s new Cannon Street office and StubHub’s premises in Tottenham Court Road when they failed to comply.

In the case of StubHub, the competition watchdog is understood to be especially interested in its Top Seller programme for its biggest resellers, bolstered with the company’s recent acquisition of inventory-management solution Ticket Utils.

Davies also reveals CMA sister agency National Trading Standards is conducting its own investigation into secondary ticketing, dubbed Operation Electra.

FanFair Alliance, which campaigns against “industrial-scale ticketing touting”, calls the reported action by CMA a “welcome development”.

“The UK is celebrated for its live music scene, and we should have the best and most transparent system of ticket resale”

“It is no secret that the model of so-called ‘secondary ticketing’ promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave has resulted in UK audiences being systematically ripped off on an industrial scale,” reads a statement from the organisation. “Contrary to their slick marketing campaigns, these platforms are dominated by professional touts who are seemingly offered incentives to sell ever higher volumes of tickets.

“The new revelations from the Paradise Papers highlight a jaw-dropping scale of complicity between large-scale sellers and one of the platforms, with Canadian-based tout Julien Lavallee turning over millions of dollars each year and then using an offshore firm to avoid tax. Lavallee’s company, I Want Tickets, has harvested and resold thousands of tickets for UK events, and was active on StubHub as recently as August 2017.

“We believe such practices are not isolated to a single platform. Nor that Lavallee is a one-off. FanFair has identified a range of dubious businesses, including offshore holding companies, reselling significant volumes of tickets to a variety of UK events.

“What we now need is root-and-branch reform. As well as regulatory action, we urge the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee to revisit the issue of ticket abuse, and for the government to enforce legislation in a meaningful way. The UK is celebrated for its live music scene, and we should have the best and most transparent system of ticket resale – not a market polluted by these shabby and disgraceful practices.”

 


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