On 28 November 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority (‘CMA’) announced that it would take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites after an investigation revealed possible breaches of consumer protection law. The laws in question include the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
The unnamed companies in question would be asked to change their behaviour and policies, and if not, would face court action by the CMA under Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002.
The CMA has concerns regarding the following behaviour:
- pressure selling – whether claims made about the availability and popularity of tickets create a misleading impression or rush customers into making a buying decision;
- difficulties for customers in getting their money back under a website’s guarantee;
- speculative selling – where businesses advertise tickets for sale that they do not yet own and therefore may not be able to supply; and
- concerns about whether the organisers of some sporting events have sold tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.
To combat the possible infringements of consumer law mentioned above, the CMA is in turn looking for the accused companies to implement the following changes:
- it must be clear if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket that could result in buyers being denied access to an event;
- people should know whom they are buying from – for example if the seller is a business and/or an event organiser – and can benefit from their legal rights; and
- customers need to be told where exactly in a venue they will be seated.
In an interesting tactic, the CMA also revealed that it would be contacting event organisers to help them avoid being challenged for using terms to restrict the resale of their tickets, indicating that they may have been under pressure from ticketing websites who rely on their ability to resell legally.
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