Ticket resale sites face crackdown on ‘opaque and misleading’ pricing

Brands including StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In have been banned from not making ticket prices clearer as the ad regulator responds to “ongoing concerns” about pricing in the industry.

secondary-ticketing websites

Secondary ticketing operators including StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In have said the will work with the ad regulator to crackdown on some of their advertising practices as the ad regulator responds to concerns about misleading pricing in the sector.

The Advertising Standards Authority has concluded a formal investigation into the sector, finding that advertisers were “not upfront and clear” with consumers about additional ticket fees and charges added at the end of the booking process. It has now banned several pricing practices, including not making clear the total ticket price at the beginning of the customer journey, not including the booking fee upfront and not making clear the applicable delivery fee.

The UK ad rules require all quoted prices to include non-optional taxes and fees that apply to all or most buyers upfront, as well as any applicable delivery feed. The crackdown means secondary ticketing operators will have to ensure “transparent” pricing by including all information about relevant fees at the start of the customer journey, before someone has made a decision about whether to make a purchase.

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.

Guy Parker, ASA

ASA chief executive Guy Parker 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.”

The brands have broadly welcomed the move. Ticketmaster says it “welcomes all efforts to bring transparency and ease to fans buying tickets” and claims its resales sites, which include Seatwave, “ensure” fans know exactly what they will pay at every stage of the buying process and displaying all fees as soon as a customer picks their ticket numbers.

“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,” says a spokesperson.

StubHub says: “As a consumer-first ticket marketplace, StubHub supports any measures which make ticket buying easier, more convenient and more transparent for fans. We welcome this opportunity to work closely with the ASA and will be fully compliant with its decision. We hope that other plays in the ticketing industry, including primary issuers, follow suit.”

In addition, the ASA has also banned Viagogo from using the claim “official site” because it misleadingly implies it is the official primary ticket outlet, not a second-hand ticket website. It has also banned its “100% Guarantee” claim, which the regulator believes suggests that consumers are guaranteed entry to the relevant venue when in reality there is a reasonable risk buyers might not be able to gain entry.

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