Transparency in the Secondary Ticketing Market: U.K. Government Joins the Battle for Protecting Consumer Rights

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On February 24th, the U.K. Government took important steps towards protecting the rights of consumers wishing to purchase event tickets through secondary ticketing markets, such as StubHub, Viagogo and Seatwave. In the hopes of protecting fans from fraud (and discouraging scalpers from buying tickets in bulk) the House of Lords and House of Commons have come to an agreement for a ticket re-sale policy amendments made to the consumer rights bill tabled by Conservative peer, Lord Moynihan.

Image via Maurice

What prompted this change?
In early January more than 80 music, sport and theater representatives wrote an open letter to the government, which called for significant changes to be made to combat the current “unscrupulous practices” presently found in the secondary ticketing market.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse (APPG) has also pushed for fairer secondary ticket marketing practices for quite some time. In response to this amendment Mike Weatherley, Co-Chair of the APPG, said, “this has been a long-standing campaign by the APPG to get some overdue changes in place. The free market system has broken down due to the introduction of ‘bots’ and other factors, enabling, on occasions, obscene profiteering for intermediaries against the interest of fans and the wishes of those putting on the event.”
What are the amendments?
The amendments include the precise details of information such as row, seat, original face value, age restrictions and the original seller to be available to purchasers, and also require secondary ticket markets to report suspected or known criminal activity. This will become law within the next three months and also requires the culture secretary to review the entire secondary ticketing market within the next 12 months.

Image via Chris & Karen Hadfield Questions and concerns
Tory peer, Lord Borwick, brought up a very valid concern, that “this recently tabled amendment […] could actually allow consumers to be ripped off under the guise of protecting them. All the tickets which the sports and music bodies are concerned about will now go back to being sold in pubs, clubs and car parks, where no consumer protection exists.”

Our initial thought on these amendments is that the U.K. government is making great first steps towards ethical protection for fans purchasing on the secondary ticketing market; however, the next step would be a requirement to only allow these tickets to be sold at their original face value. This would take a page out of the Burning Man re-sale policies, which provide a fairer approach to buying and selling tickets. Allowing these tickets to only be sold at the original face value would essentially remove the incentive to purchase and re-sell tickets purely for profit, and place the purchasing power back in the hands of genuine fans.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that who every artist, actor or sports team wants in the stands?

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