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Viagogo agrees to website changes after EU action

Viagogo has committed to improving terms and consumer information on its website following a three-year investigation by the European Commission (EC).

The agreed changes, which must be implemented to the versions of its website directed at EU/EEA consumers by the end of August 2024, include informing consumers on whether the seller of a ticket is a trader, and substantially reducing the number of countdown messages that appear when making a purchase.

In addition, the secondary ticketing site will allow customers to choose an exact seat number on their ticket, where possible, and include delivery fees in the displayed price where there is only one delivery option available for a ticket. There will also be more time to apply for a refund under Viagogo’s ‘discretionary’ ticket guarantee scheme, as featured this week on the BBC’s Watchdog consumer advice programme in the UK.

The agreement further clarifies that EU citizens will be protected by their national consumer laws and can take actions against Viagogo, if needed, in their own country of residence.

The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network, coordinated by the EC, began a dialogue with Viagogo in April 2021. As a result of this first coordinated action from the EU, the Swiss-headquartered resale platform has agreed to implement a number of changes and clarifications to several clauses in its terms & conditions by the end of August.

“Consumers buying second hand tickets must understand exactly what they buy, the potential risks they face when tickets do not come from authorised retailers and that scarcity claims may only be a trick to make them purchase at a higher price,” says Věra Jourová, the EC’s VP for values and transparency. “I hope the commitments made by Viagogo will bring the company’s website and terms and conditions more in line with the requirements of EU consumer protection law. I call on this market leader now to ensure a swift and accurate implementation of its commitments across the Union.”

“We expect this will save lots of time and money in legal battles, which the live performance sector can ill afford”

A Viagogo spokesperson says: “Following a period of ongoing cooperation with the European Commission and the CPC Network, we have agreed to make amendments to our platform that will further enhance our consumer protection measures by the implementation deadline.

“Viagogo remains fully committed to fulfilling all legal obligations and ensuring compliance in all markets in which we operate. We are pleased to have reached a resolution and underline our commitment to prioritising fan safety and access.”

Commenting on the development, Sam Shemtob, director of the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), says: “FEAT has been calling for better enforcement for rogue ticket resale marketplaces for five years. This is the EU’s first coordinated action, and introduces some of the most far-reaching consumer protection for European consumers to date.

“The changes will also prove incredibly useful in promoters’ efforts to curtail ticket scalping. We expect this will save lots of time and money in legal battles, which the live performance sector can ill afford.”

Nevertheless, Viagogo has refused to commit to changes the CPC Network had requested around informing consumers about the amount of possible delivery fees at the beginning of the purchase procedure, as well as making clearer to consumers that they may have additional rights when their event is cancelled or postponed.

“The CPC Network urged Viagogo to address these issues as well and may resort to enforcement actions as necessary,” says the EC. “The CPC Network will now actively monitor how Viagogo implements its commitments. If Viagogo does not implement the commitments properly within the agreed timeframe or if it fails to address the remaining concerns raised by the CPC Network, national consumer authorities may decide to take measures to enforce compliance, including sanctions.”

 


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Ticketing amendments rejected by House of Commons

Fresh legislation that would impact the secondary ticketing market has been rejected in the House of Commons.

The amendments to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill called for requirements to be imposed on resale platforms regarding “proof of purchase, ticket number limits and the provision of information, with the aim of reducing fraud”.

“I do not want to stop any fans from reselling their tickets if they can no longer go to the event. I just want the industrial-scale, parasitic scalping to stop,” said Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, a longtime campaigner against industrial-scale ticket touting. “However, until we get to that point – and while the Conservatives are still in government—it is important that current legislation is made as effective as possible. They could ensure that now.

“The small measures that we are talking about do not go as far as we plan to go, but they would be a start in preventing consumer harm and making it harder for bad actors to thrive.”

Fellow Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant added: “If the minister goes to the Viagogo website and tries to buy a ticket, he will see on the first page that it says the ticket is £420 or whatever. Can he see the original value of the ticket? No. Can he see whether it is a validly purchased ticket? No. That is the problem that the amendment would solve. It would be simple for the government to agree to the amendment and then we can get the Bill through.”

Nevertheless, the proposed changes were voted out by MPs yesterday (30 April), as business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “We believe those provisions are already there,” and admitted to using resale platform Viagogo himself in the past.

“I have quite happily used Viagogo on many occasions, as other people have when reselling tickets”

“I have quite happily used Viagogo on many occasions, as other people have when reselling tickets,” said the Conservative MP. “Of course we will keep looking at the primary and secondary markets, and at the interaction between the two, so that we can develop the right way to regulate the market, in a future parliament.”

The suggested requirements for resale sites were in line with the recommendations made in a 2021 report by the Competition and Markets Authority to tighten laws around online ticket touting, which were rejected by the UK government in May last year, with then business secretary Hollinrake saying he was “not convinced” by the need for additional legislative changes.

The amendments to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers will potentially return to the House of Lords for further discussion at a later date.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer recently pledged to introduce new legislation to cap ticket resale if the party wins the next general election. Measures would include restricting the resale of tickets at more than a small, set percentage above face value, and limiting the number of tickets individual resellers can list. But Viagogo global MD Cris Miller claimed that while the move is “well-intentioned”, “price caps just don’t work”.

“What happens with price caps is that the highest-demand part of the market, where you might see prices go above the original price, will just get driven underground,” Miller told the Guardian.

 


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StubHub considering IPO, targets $16.5bn valuation

Ticket resale platform StubHub is reportedly planning to go public this summer if it can achieve a valuation of around US$16.5 billion (€15.5bn).

The Information, which broke the news, cites sources close to StubHub, but says the company may call off the offering if it is unable to approach its $16.5bn target – in line with what it was valued at during its 2021 round of private funding.

The American firm, which is understood to have been working with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs on the IPO over the past two years, is said to have debts of more than $2bn. It was previously rumoured to be going public via a direct listing in 2022.

StubHub, JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs have all declined to comment on the timing of the offering.

CNBC notes that ticket platform SeatGeek has also reportedly been sizing up a potential IPO this year, while publicly traded competitors Vivid Seats and Live Nation are valued at $1.2bn and close to $24bn, respectively, according to FactSet.

Viagogo announced its $4bn acquisition of StubHub in 2019

Viagogo announced its acquisition of StubHub for US$4.05bn in 2019 in a landmark deal that brought together the world’s two largest secondary ticket sellers, and placed Viagogo founder and CEO Eric Baker back in control of the company he co-founded in 2000.

The sale was approved by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after Viagogo was forced to sell its international business due to competition concerns. It offloaded its StubHub business outside of North America to investment firm Digital Fuel Capital LLC for an undisclosed sum in 2021.

Viagogo has also been back in the news this week, with the Swiss-headquartered firm’s global MD Cris Miller speaking out against Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to introduce new legislation to cap ticket resale in the UK if the party wins the next general election.

Measures would include restricting the resale of tickets at more than a small, set percentage above face value, and limiting the number of tickets individual resellers can list. But Miller claimed that while the move is “well-intentioned”, “price caps just don’t work”.

“What happens with price caps is that the highest-demand part of the market, where you might see prices go above the original price, will just get driven underground,” he told the Guardian.

 


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Labour leader pledges to cap ticket resale in UK

Music industry figures in the UK have welcomed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s pledge to introduce new legislation to cap ticket resale if the party wins the next general election.

Speaking today (14 March) at the Labour Creatives Conference in London, Sir Keir said: “We can’t let access to culture be at the mercy of ticket touts who drive up the prices. So a Labour government will cap resale prices so fans can see the acts that they love at a fair price.”

The move would restrict the resale of tickets at more than a small, set percentage above face value, and limit the number of tickets individual resellers can list.

In addition, it would make platforms accountable for the accuracy of information about tickets they list for sale and ensure the Competition and Markets Authority has the powers that it needs to take action against platforms and touts, to protect consumers.

Sir Keir’s speech came just a day after two people were convicted of fraudulently and dishonestly buying and reselling tickets for high-profile concerts by acts including Ed Sheeran as part of a £6.5 million scheme.

A 2022 investigation by ITV News, based on research carried out by campaign group FanFair Alliance (FFA), found that three people were responsible for over two-thirds of UK festival and outdoor event tickets listed by resale platform Viagogo.

“The impact of these policies should be monumentally positive, and help to reset the UK’s live music market for the benefit of artists and their audiences”

Legislation to outlaw ticket touting has been adopted in a number of other countries. However, the UK government last year rejected the recommendations of the British competition regulator to tighten laws around online ticket touting, prompting the FFA, which was established by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) in July 2016, to relaunch its campaigning and advocate for a total ban on ticket resale for profit.

FFA campaign manager Adam Webb describes the announcement as “positive news for music fans”, while managers of acts such as Ed Sheeran, Arctic Monkeys, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Biffy Clyro also applauded the news.

“We have spent years fighting the scourge of online ticket touting and keeping prices fair for fans,” says Stuart Camp of Grumpy Old Management. “The impact of these policies should be monumentally positive, and help to reset the UK’s live music market for the benefit of artists and their audiences.”

“I fully welcome and applaud the commitment from Labour to introduce legislation to reform the broken resale marketplace which has blighted our industry for years,” says Wildlife Entertainment CEO Ian McAndrew. “As a founder member of the FanFair Alliance, we have campaigned for over a decade to encourage change while introducing measures to try and protect fans. The introduction of new legislation will better protect fans from the unscrupulous practices of online touts.”

“ATC has always strived to prevent our artists’ audiences from being exploited by online ticket touts,” adds ATC Management’s Brian Message. “This is often a challenging, time-consuming and difficult process, which is why we helped set up FanFair Alliance and why fresh legislation in this area is now so important. I’m hopeful today marks a real turning point.”

Nostromo Management’s Paul Craig says: “As a music manager, I am delighted with Labour’s initiative to dismantle the secondary ticket market’s grip on live events. This decisive action against online ticket touting should herald a new era where fans can access tickets fairly, and the essence of live music will thrive without the shadow of exploitation.”

“The enforcement of new legislation is the only way to fully clamp down on these rogue traders and the platforms they sell across”

A host of other prominent executives have also spoken out in support of the proposed legislation.

Jon Collins, CEO of trade body LIVE, says: “We welcome Labour’s commitment to clamp down on ticket touting to ensure more tickets end up in the hands of fans and not bots.”

Annabella Coldrick, MMF chief executive, says: “We welcome greatly that the Labour Party has announced this policy and look forward to seeing it come into legislation.”

Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live and co-founder of LIVE, says: “Alongside other FanFair supporters, Kilimanjaro has called for these kinds of consumer-friendly policies for years. As a company, we work incredibly hard to stop our events being hijacked by online ticket touts, but the enforcement of new legislation is the only way to fully clamp down on these rogue traders and the platforms they sell across.”

Gareth Griffiths, director partnerships & sponsorship, Virgin Media O2, says: “O2 has been part of the FanFair Alliance since 2017 with the aim of protecting our customers from online touts during our exclusive Priority Tickets presales.

“We’ve seen the secondary market swamped with over-inflated, sky-high ticket resale prices for years, with no benefit for artists or their fans. Legislation would be a crucial step forward and through our continued work with FanFair Alliance we’re pleased to see this issue getting the attention and action it deserves.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Viagogo expressed caution, saying there is “significant evidence” to show that resale restrictions force fans “to unverified sites and social media, exposing them to a high risk of fraud without any protection”.

“We see this as an opportunity to underscore the effectiveness of today’s regulatory framework of the resale marketplace, which has been shaped by years of government review and oversight,” adds the spokesperson. “A safe, secure and transparent environment for UK consumers has been established.

“We protect consumer’s rights to buy and sell tickets in a secure, regulated marketplace. On Viagogo, payment is contingent on the buyer successfully entering the event, and every transaction is guaranteed, ensuring buyers either gain entry or receive a refund.

“We believe that a comprehensive conversation, focused on practical and effective regulation across the entire ticketing industry, is in the best interest of consumers.”

 


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Paradiso cancels 2,400 tickets on secondary market

Amsterdam’s Paradiso cancelled more than 2,400 tickets being sold on resale platforms at inflated prices for a large number of upcoming shows.

The Dutch club has resold the tickets at their original prices via a waiting list system introduced in 2022.

Paradiso’s head of ticketing Erik Luyten says the venue was compelled to act after seeing tickets for gigs by acts such as Air and PinkPantheress being advertised online at several times’ face value.

“At some popular concerts, 10 to 15% of the tickets are bought up and resold at a higher price,” Luyten tells Parool. “Black marketers operate in a very sophisticated manner. As a result, they often remain under the radar for a long time. Through extensive research, we were able to understand various practices of these individuals or groups, identify the suspicious orders and void their purchases.

“They use many different names and email addresses, but we were able to match them to specific people or parties by searching our data by bank account number or IP address. We hope to hit a number of major players on the secondary market with this action.”

“It is very bad that people who would like to go to a concert cannot now come for a normal price”

People whose tickets have been invalidated will not be refunded by Paradiso and have been advised to contact the relevant resale site.

No anti-touting legislation currently exists in the Netherlands, although a motion for legal measures was adopted by the House of Representatives in 2022.

Luyten adds that Paradiso is keen to keep concerts accessible to a large audience by keeping ticket prices as low as possible.

“These people and groups take advantage of this,” he says. “It is very bad that people who would like to go to a concert cannot now come for a normal price.”

The 1,500-cap venue has upcoming concerts with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Tricky, Róisín Murphy, Griff, Pixies, Echo & the Bunnymen, Thundercat and Declan McKenna.

 


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Viagogo settles with Swiss watchdog

Secondary ticketing platform Viagogo has reached a settlement with Switzerland’s largest consumer protection organisation following a six-year legal battle.

The resale firm, whose European headquarters are in Geneva, has allocated 100,000 Swiss francs (€105,000) as compensation for the 807 individuals who lodged complaints against it with the Fédération Romande des Consommateurs (FRC) prior to 5 February 2024.

Viagogo has also agreed to make changes to its Swiss website, indicating its status as a resale marketplace in Switzerland’s three national languages and English, so that consumers are not led to believe they are buying from an official seller.

It must also provide greater transparency over ticket prices and seating information, feature a reduced number of “pop-up” windows to limit pressure on prospective buyers, and clearly identify professional resellers or traders.

In return for these changes, the FRC has withdrawn its lawsuit. However, should Viagogo fail to meet any of the above commitments, the FRC will be free to make another legal complaint.

“In our view, this agreement was the best option faced to a procedure that was getting bogged down and would certainly have taken many more years before a final decision was reached,” says Jean Tschopp, head of the FRC’s legal department. “Our association preferred concrete improvements for internet users in the form of changes brought to Viagogo’s Swiss website instead of waiting several more years for a final decision.

“What’s more, pursuing the legal route wouldn’t have guaranteed a favourable outcome for aggrieved consumers. Even if the courts had found against Viagogo, the victims wouldn’t necessarily have received compensation. In this case, the 807 people concerned will be.”

“We hope and expect the new Digital Services Act, which requires online marketplaces to improve transparency and desist from pressure buying tactics, will be robustly enforced”

The FRC first lodged a criminal complaint against Viagogo with the Geneva public prosecutor’s office in 2017 after receiving more than 100 complaints against the site, relating to lack of transparency over pricing, pressure-selling tactics, and leading consumers to believe they were buying from an official ticket seller.

“While great news, the settlement – made after six years of legal work – highlights the difficulty of hauling uncapped ticket resale sites through the courts,” says Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) director Sam Shemtob. “For consumers in the EU, we hope and expect the new Digital Services Act, which requires online marketplaces to improve transparency and desist from pressure buying tactics, will be robustly enforced.”

A Viagogo spokesperson says: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Fédération Romande des Consommateurs. As part of this, we have made changes to our Swiss platform to enhance the fan experience for our Swiss customers. Viagogo is a safe, secure and regulated marketplace that is fully compliant in the markets in which we operate.”

The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), which was implemented on Saturday (17 February), brought major implications for the online secondary ticketing market, requiring platforms to identify and verify professional sellers, and prohibiting them from using manipulative sales tactics.

The legislation has also introduced annual reports on content take-downs that should help reveal the scale of illegal activity – data on which enforcement agencies and search engines will be compelled to take action.

There have been over 40 legal cases against ticket traders and resale platforms in the EU since 2016.

 


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ASA says resale advert ruling ‘sets a precedent’

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told IQ its recent ruling against Viagogo has “set a precedent” for secondary ticketing websites.

Last month, the watchdog upheld a complaint from anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance that the resale platform had misled consumers in two advertorials published on the NME website in 2023. The paid-for ads were entitled “The best gigs to see this summer at Hyde Park” and “A beginners guide to getting Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ tour tickets. How to avoid the scammers and secure tickets.”

FanFair Alliance complained to the ASA, saying it understood the resale of tickets through resale websites like Viagogo was prohibited by the events listed.

Viagogo hit back, arguing it simply stated that tickets for the events were legitimately available on its marketplace and believed there was nothing in the ads which implied it was an official primary ticketing outlet. But the ASA rejected its argument and said the adverts must not appear again in the form complained of.

Speaking to IQ, the ASA’s Freddie Alcock says the case was relatively straightforward.

“The ruling is to protect consumers, ultimately, but also set a precedent going forward that you can’t omit information around the sale of these tickets”

“The reason they were misleading is because both events quite clearly stated in their terms and conditions that tickets bought on secondary ticketing platforms wouldn’t be valid,” he says. “We operate what we call ‘reverse burden of proof’, in that it’s on the advertiser to prove why something isn’t misleading, or to substantiate a claim they made – and Viagogo weren’t able to provide what we felt was substantial evidence that neither ads misled.

“The ruling is to protect consumers, ultimately, but also set a precedent going forward that you can’t omit information around the sale of these tickets. And to be fair to Viagogo, they have complied with it and removed both advertorials.”

Viagogo said it was “disappointed” by the ASA’s ruling, insisting it is “a safe, secure and regulated global online marketplace, and we are fully compliant with the law in all markets in which we operate”.

“We exist to get fans into live events and oppose anti-consumer actions taken by event organisers to restrict purchasing and resale options in an attempt to control the market. These measures ultimately harm fans by limiting choice, flexibility, and access.”

The company told the ASA that less than 1% of customers were denied entry to events after having purchased a ticket on its platform, and operated a guarantee so that if a customer was not admitted they would be entitled to a refund. But Alcock says that was not relevant to the complaint.

“It’s on our radar that a lot of events now say that resale tickets are only valid through a fan-to-fan exchange”

“That’s irrelevant to the problem here,” he says. “The problem here is that it does clearly misleadingly imply that tickets are valid. And [Viagogo’s] response, to be fair, was ‘Okay, we disagree, but we respect the ASA and its view.’

“We understand that [secondary ticketing] companies are allowed to operate – everyone has their views on that and it’s not for us to talk about. All that we’re concerned about is that, when they do advertise, they make sure that they don’t omit any information that could be considered important for the consumer to know upfront.”

Alcock says the regulator anticipates similar complaints to become more commonplace as artists increasingly seek to control where tickets for their shows can be resold.

“I think this ruling preemptively speaks to that issue,” he says. “It’s on our radar that a lot of events now say that resale tickets are only valid through a fan-to-fan exchange, or whatever. So hopefully this ruling serves as a reminder.

“Our main goal here is to protect consumers. We’re very conscious of the fact that someone’s buying a ticket for one of these events, one, they’re expensive and two, they might have to travel to it and pay for a hotel. There’s a lot that goes into someone deciding to go to one of these events.”

The ASA previously took action in 2018 alongside the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) around secondary ticket sales websites failing to properly disclose fees for tickets upfront.

 


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Court backs Rammstein on secondary ticketing

Rammstein and European promoter MCT Agentur have won a further court ruling in Germany, compelling resale sites to abide by legal rules in the marketplace.

CTS Eventim is the exclusive authorised ticket provider for the rock band’s German shows, with tickets permitted to be resold only via its fanSALE platform, which caps prices at 10% above face value.

The group and MCT previously obtained an interim injunction against Viagogo regarding the band’s 2023 European stadium tour. Although the ruling was contested by the platform, it has since been upheld by the Hamburg Regional Court.

The judgement was delivered last month, and obliges Viagogo to comply with the relevant legal rules “when distributing all concert tickets in Germany”. The company was also fined €20,000 by the court, along with an additional €250 per day if it fails to pay up. The court adds that Viagogo appears to have “not taken any notice of the preliminary injunction” so far.

The case marked the second time the Hamburg Regional Court had legally prohibited the Switzerland-headquartered company from reselling Rammstein tickets, following an identical injunction in 2019.

The most recent court order, which is not yet legally binding, is based on consumer protection regulations that were newly defined in May 2022. Rammstein and MCT also obtained interim injunctions against secondary ticketing companies StubHub and Gigsberg in November 2023.

“All decisions confirm the opinion of Rammstein and the MCT Agency”

“All decisions confirm the opinion of Rammstein and the MCT Agency, the tour promoter of the European shows, that Viagogo AG, StubHub, Inc. and Gigsberg Services OÜ are violating consumer protection regulations,” says a statement from Berlin-based MCT.

Rammstein are celebrating their 30th anniversary with a 2024 European stadium tour, launching in Prague, Czechia on 11 May and wrapping up with five nights at Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins-Arena in the group’s native Germany from 26-31 July. Ticket prices for the German gigs range between €70-131.

In an effort to clamp down on the excesses of the resale market, tickets for the concerts will have the full name of the buyer printed on them. The ticket holder will be required to present their ID to gain access entry to the stadium, along with the rest of their party.

“There are strict entry controls at all concerts,” stresses MCT. “If a ticket is not personalised to the person requesting entry, they will not be allowed entry. Any returns of tickets (e.g. due to prevention, illness, etc.) in accordance with the general terms and conditions of the tour operator MCT Agency can only be processed via the CTS Eventim platform ‘fanSALE’.

“All other providers who offer Rammstein tickets are unauthorised dealers. Rammstein tickets purchased there do not entitle you to enter a show. This applies in particular to all Rammstein tickets that are offered through providers of the so-called secondary ticket market.”

 


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FC Barcelona join FEAT European ticketing alliance

FC Barcelona have become the first sports club to join the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) in its mission for a Europe-wide ban on event ticket resale above face value.

The agreement was signed at the office of the La Liga giants’ president Joan Laporta, who was joined by VP of marketing area Juli Guiu and FEAT founding director Neo Sala, founder and CEO of Barcelona-based concert promoter Doctor Music.

The club have already started implementing a series of measures to combat unauthorised ticket resale – including personalised tickets and a tracking system to prevent misuse – as part of their ‘Visiting Supporter Security and Control Protocol’ for high-risk fixtures.

“We’re delighted to bring FC Barcelona, our first non-music member, on board to continue our fight against unethical ticket resale,” says Sala. “This strengthens our voice, building a united front on the issue across entertainment and live events. In this way, FC Barcelona becoming FEAT’s first sports member, Barcelona will now become FEAT’s official home city, and will host its Annual General Meeting there every year.”

“Tackling unauthorised ticket resale has been a priority of the club’s for some time so this partnership makes perfect sense”

In becoming FEAT’s latest member, FC Barcelona have joined with live events professionals across Europe to make three key promises as part of their pledge: to fight for face-value ticket resale, to only support resale marketplaces that are legally compliant and embrace transparency, and to stand up to search engines and social media platforms accepting advertising from irregular resale platforms.

“Tackling unauthorised ticket resale has been a priority of the club’s for some time so this partnership makes perfect sense,” adds Guiu. “This alliance is also aligned with the different actions that FC Barcelona has been undertaking to protect its members and season ticket holders against any situation and for purchasers of tickets for all sectors to feel safe in the knowledge that the tickets they buy are legitimate and fairly priced.”

Since its 2019 launch, FEAT boasts achievements including helping to secure key provisions in EU law to regulate resale platforms such in as the Digital Services Act and its publication of two guides on best practice to avoid unauthorised ticket resale.

It also unveiled its Make Tickets Fair! campaign in 2023 to help music fans avoid being ripped off on the secondary ticketing market.

 


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ASA rules Viagogo misled customers in NME ads

UK watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against Viagogo, ruling the resale platform misled consumers in two advertorials published on the NME website.

The first paid-for ad feature, headed, “The best gigs to see this summer at Hyde Park”, appeared on 16 June 2023, and listed five shows scheduled to take place at BST Hyde Park, along with text stating: “Fans can buy and sell tickets for [name of artist performing] at global marketplace, Viagogo, here”.

A second advertorial, seen on 20 July 2023, was headlined, “A beginners guide to getting Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ tour tickets. How to avoid the scammers and secure tickets”. It included text, which stated, “To purchase resale tickets as safely as possible, fans should avoid buying tickets via social media… Your best bet is ticket marketplaces like Viagogo, which connects ticket sellers with fans via a safe platform… Fans can buy and sell tickets for Taylor Swift at global marketplace, Viagogo here”.

Anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance complained to the ASA, saying it understood the resale of tickets through secondary ticketing websites like Viagogo was prohibited by the events listed in the ads.

Viagogo denied the ads were misleading, arguing it simply stated that tickets for the events were legitimately available on its marketplace and believed there was nothing in the ads which implied Viagogo was an official primary ticketing outlet.

The company said that less than 1% of customers were denied entry to events after having purchased a ticket on their platform, and they operated a guarantee so that if a customer was not admitted they would be entitled to a refund.

“Furthermore, they explained that all additional information which related to a ticket for a specific event was clearly made available to consumers on the Viagogo website before a consumer purchased that ticket,” adds the ASA’s summary.

“We told Viagogo AG to ensure future ads did not mislead consumers by omitting material information regarding the entry restrictions”

However, the regulator concluded that the adverts were misleading and said they must not appear again in the form complained of.

“We understood that Viagogo operated a guarantee whereby anyone who was not admitted to an event was entitled to receive a refund and we acknowledged that only a small proportion of their customers had been refused entry.” concludes the ASA. “However, we considered that the prohibition of resale tickets, as outlined in both the BST Hyde Park and Taylor Swift Eras tour terms and conditions, was material information which was likely to affect a consumer’s decision to purchase tickets through Viagogo.

“Because the ads omitted material information about the validity of tickets purchased through Viagogo and the risk of the venues refusing entry to consumers who had purchased their tickets through secondary ticketing websites, we concluded that they were misleading.

“We told Viagogo AG to ensure future ads did not mislead consumers by omitting material information regarding the entry restrictions on tickets purchased through them and other secondary ticketing sites.”

Responding to the assessment, Viagogo spokesperson says the firm is “disappointed” by the ASA’s ruling.

“Viagogo is a safe, secure and regulated global online marketplace, and we are fully compliant with the law in all markets in which we operate,” adds the firm. “We exist to get fans into live events and oppose anti-consumer actions taken by event organisers to restrict purchasing and resale options in an attempt to control the market. These measures ultimately harm fans by limiting choice, flexibility, and access.”

 


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