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ASA clamps down on secondaries’ drip pricing

The big four UK secondary ticketers must now list all costs, including taxes and booking/delivery fees, upfront, following a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority

By Jon Chapple on 07 Mar 2018

Guy Lewis, ASA

image © ASA

The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today ordered the ‘big four’ secondary ticketing platforms to remove what it calls the “misleading presentation of pricing information” from their websites.

The ASA’s intervention – which follows a recent judgment against Ticketmaster over its description of Platinum tickets as the “best available” – is a response to concerns raised, including by anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance, about “misleading pricing” by secondary ticketing sites, says the advertising watchdog.

Following an investigation in which it discovered additional fees and charges were added at the end of the booking process – so-called drip pricing – the ASA has banned Viagogo, StubHub UK and Ticketmaster’s Get Me In! and Seatwave from not making clear the total ticket price at the beginning of the booking process; not including the booking fee upfront; and not making clear the applicable delivery fee.

In addition, the authority has barred Viagogo from calling itself an “official site” (something also outlawed by Google in its recent overhaul of its AdWords policy) and making the claim its tickets have a “100% guarantee”, when in fact promoters have been known to invalidate tickets bought on the site, such as with Ed Sheeran’s Divide tour.

British advertising rules now require quoted prices to include non-optional taxes and fees that apply to all, or most, buyers, as well any delivery fees.

“The message is simple and clear: the price you see at the start should be the price you pay at the end”

The UK drip pricing crackdown follows similar enforcement actions in Canada and the Netherlands.

Commenting on the decision, ASA chief executive Guy Parker (pictured) says: “Many of us will recognise the frustration of being happy with the initial price of tickets on a secondary website only to be stung by hefty fees when we come to book. The message from our rulings is simple and it’s clear: the price you see at the start should be the price you pay at the end.”

Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, adds: “FanFair Alliance is aware of thousands of UK music fans who feel ripped off by so-called secondary ticketing platforms. Almost without fail, these victims share three recurring complaints: they were directed via Google advertising towards these sites; they thought they were purchasing from an authorised seller; and they were misled on pricing.

“While we welcome today’s ASA ruling and hope it goes some way to addressing this latter issue, what’s absolutely crucial now is enforcement. Without proper sanctions, we fear that much-needed reforms will not be implemented, particularly by Viagogo, and the public will continue to be duped.”

“For Ed’s shows we’ve taken every effort to cut out the online touts and ensure that his fans can buy tickets at the price we set,” comments Ed Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Camp. “That’s a major challenge when so-called secondary ticketing sites like Viagogo blatantly mislead the public, and why we strongly back both the FanFair Alliance campaign and this ASA ruling.”


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