Websites that resell concert and theatre tickets have been ordered to come clean on “hidden” charges and fees.
Booking fees on each individual ticket, VAT and delivery charges are often added at the end of the process, adding sometime hundreds of pounds to the advertised price.
This process has been described by the Advertising Standards Authority as “misleading” and it is now forcing secondary ticketing agencies to be up front with consumers.
The ASA found that StubHub UK, Viagogo, Seatwave and GetMeIn! were not clear with consumers about additional ticket fees and charges.
It has instructed the four sites to improve transparency over pricing, making it clear from the outset the total ticket price, the VAT-inclusive booking fee and the delivery fee.
Secondary ticketing sites are designed to re-sell tickets to concerts, shows and events where the original buyer can no longer attend.
Stars such as Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons have been vocal about the impact of the sites on their fans.
Viagogo has also been banned from using the slogan “official site” as it misled customers into believing that it was a primary ticketing outlet rather than a secondary resale site.
Viagogo is also banned from offering a “100% Guarantee” claim which the ASA said misleadingly suggested that consumers were guaranteed entry
Guy Parker, the ASA’s chief executive, said: “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.”
The websites welcomed moves to make ticket pricing more transparent for consumers.
A spokeswoman for Ticketmaster, which owns Seatwave and GetMeIn, said: “We will continue to work with both the ASA and the CMA to further develop levels of transparency and consumer protection within the UK ticketing sector.”
Best-selling singer Sheeran has cancelled tickets for his 2018 tour that were sold anywhere but the official resale site.
Campaign group FanFair Alliance said thousands of UK music fans felt ripped off by some secondary ticketing platforms.
In a statement it said: “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.”
Google last month ordered secondary ticketing sites to be more transparent about the tickets they are selling.
It has specifically prohibited the use of words like “official”, as well as the artist or venue name, in the website’s URL (for example ‘AdeleTickets.com’).
To be certified by Google, all event ticket resellers must:
- Not imply that they are a primary marketplace
- Prominently disclose themselves as a ticket reseller/secondary marketplace
- Prominently disclose that prices may be above face value
- Provide both the total cost and breakdown of the price including fees and taxes before requiring payment information
- Prominently provide the face value of the tickets being sold in the same currency