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Dutch consumer org contests TM booking fees

Dutch consumer protection organisation Consumentenbond has criticised ticketing giant Ticketmaster for not refunding customers’ booking fees in the case of cancelled or postponed events.

The consumers’ association states there is “no good legal reason” not to reimburse the handling fee along with the cost of the ticket for axed events.

According to the Consumentenbond, this opinion is shared by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

In 2017, the ACM ordered all ticket agencies operating in the country to include all additional or “unavoidable” fees, such as booking or processing fees, in the “base price” of a ticket.

The consumers’ association states there is “no good legal reason” not to reimburse the handling fee along with the cost of the ticket for axed events

The consumers’ organisation is hoping to arrange a meeting with Ticketmaster to discuss the matter further and “find a solution”. IQ has commented Ticketmaster for comment.

Ticketmaster is the leading ticketing service in Holland followed by Eventim Netherlands, which gained ground on its competitor last year, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018.

The price of concert tickets in the Netherlands increased on average by 3% this year, as the country’s reduced VAT rate – which includes “admission to cultural events” – rose from six to nine percent.

 


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Dutch culture ministry to investigate ticket touting

Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Netherlands’ minister for education, culture and science, has announced a review of the secondary ticketing market to see if legislation is needed to prevent ticket fraud and the harvesting of large volumes of tickets for resale.

The intervention by van Engelshoven follows a parliamentary question on 1 February by MP Peter Kwint, who asked whether the minister saw anything suspicious in U2 tickets selling out in a few minutes and then immediately appearing on resale site Seatwave. “Can you guarantee that Live Nation, or one of its subsidiaries, does not place tickets directly on secondary ticketing websites such as Seatwave?” he asked van Engelshoven.

“If not, are you prepared to investigate how these tickets are available on this site within a few minutes?”

Van Engelshoven (pictured) responded on 15 March in a letter to the House of Representatives, saying that while “at this stage, it’s too early to draw any conclusions”, she intends to discuss the issue with industry stakeholders in the coming months to establish whether any new legislation is necessary.

“Ae you prepared to investigate how these tickets are available on this site within a few minutes?”

Those stakeholders include Ticketmaster Netherlands, promoter Mojo Concerts, Music Managers Forum NL, promoters’ association VNPF and venues association VVEM. She adds she has already consulted with Eurosonic Noorderslag, competition authority ACM and online marketplaces eBay and Markplaats.

“It is important to get a good picture of the opportunities that are available to address any problems, and if there are any gaps,” she writes. The answer, she adds, could be a technological solution, naming Youp van het Hek and Jochem Meijer as artists who are already using blockchain technology to prevent the resale of their tickets.

“The number of parties that have to deal with this issue is large, and the interests are diverse,” Van Engelshoven concludes, and it “takes time to conduct further discussions and to draw up a thorough analysis. I therefore expect to be able to send a response to the House in the autumn of 2018.”

The ACM dropped its own investigation into the ticket resale market in June 2016, concluding the regular public outcries over sold-out shows are are a consequence of simple supply and demand, or “scarcity and popularity”.

 


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Dutch ticketers comply with drip pricing ban

Tickets sold online in the Netherlands are now listed with all ‘unavoidable’ costs, such as booking and processing fees, listed upfront, following a successful intervention by the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM).

ACM in July warned the country’s leading ticket agencies – which, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2017, are Ticketmaster, Eventim, Ticketpoint and Paylogic – that all extra costs must be listed in the ‘base price’ of the ticket, giving them until 1 October to comply. ACM’s counterpart in Canada, the Competition Bureau, followed suit the following week, warning sellers they could face court action unless they ceased drip pricing online.

Under Dutch law, ‘avoidable costs’, such as optional extras or upgrades, may be displayed at a later stage in the booking process.

“ACM has established that the sector has turned a corner,” comments Bernadette van Buchem, director of ACM’s consumer department. “Trade organisations have played a positive role in that process.

“Consumers are now able to see at the start of the booking process what a ticket will cost them, including all unavoidable costs. This will enable them to compare prices better. Providers are able to compete more fairly on price.”

 


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Netherlands orders clarity on ticket pricing

The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the Dutch competition watchdog, has given online ticket agencies trading in the Netherlands until 1 October to comply with the legal requirement to include all additional fees in ticket prices.

According to ACM, Dutch law mandates ticket sellers include all “unavoidable costs”, including booking or processing fees, in the “base price” of a ticket. “Avoidable costs”, such as optional extras or upgrades, may be displayed at a later stage in the booking process.

The organisation – which replaced the Netherlands Competition Authority in 2013 – lists ensuring ‘clear prices and conditions’ for event tickets as one of its key priorities.

Bernadette van Buchem, director of ACM’s consumer department, says: “Consumers must not be confronted with additional costs during the booking process that they were always required to pay.”

Ticket sellers have until 1 October to adjust their prices, after which ACM can compel them to do so.

“Consumers must not be confronted with additional costs they were always required to pay”

The intervention comes after a number of complaints to ACM regarding the cost of concert, theatre and festival tickets. “They particularly reported that they were confronted with additional costs during the booking process that were not indicated beforehand, but that they still had to pay,” adds ACM consumer protection spokeswoman Saskia Bierling (pictured), “such as administrative costs, service fees or print costs.

“Tickets that initially seemed like a good deal soon became considerably more expensive – up to 20% more than the original price.”

CTS Eventim, which operates in the Netherlands as Eventim Nederland, has been instructed by two German courts it may no longer charge fees for printing tickets; it has appealed the decisions to Germany’s supreme Federal Court of Justice.

ACM last year dropped an investigation into the Dutch secondary ticketing market, saying it had found “no evidence” primary and secondary outlets were colluding to gouge prices.

 


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Netherlands drops ticket fraud investigation

The Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has dropped its investigation into the country’s secondary ticketing sector, rejecting claims that primary and secondary outlets – specifically Live Nation/Ticketmaster and Seatwave – had colluded to gouge prices on resale sites.

The investigation was launched at the request of Belgium’s consumer affairs minister, Kris Peters – who last month successfully lobbied to have access to three secondary outlets blocked by Belgian ISPs – amid accusations of fraud after tickets for Adele’s sold-out shows in Amsterdam on 1 and 3 June appeared almost instantly on resale sites for close to €5,000.

Chris Fonteijn, chairman of ACM, says although there is often a “public outcry” when tickets for sold-out concerts appear for high prices on the secondary market, “our research shows that this is due to scarcity and popularity”.

“There is no evidence for claims that the fact that Ticketmaster and Seatwave are part of one company harms consumers”

“When there is a high demand for a product and low supply, prices are inflated,” he adds.

Fonteijn’s organisation also “found no evidence that the fact that these two companies [Ticketmaster and Seatwave] are part of one group harms consumers” and that “there are no exclusive resale of concert tickets [by primary ticket outlets] or agreements on the prices of the tickets on resale sites like Seatwave. Ticketmaster are not active as a reseller of tickets.”

The Dutch Senate is currently debating a proposal which would see a cap on prices for secondary-market tickets. ACM says a complete ban on touting isn’t a workable solution as it would create a “black market” for tickets, leading to “the situation for consumers deteriorating even further”.

 


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