NEWSFLASH: CMA cracks down on secondary ticketing websites

Following a long-running investigation into the sector, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced plans to take enforcement action against ticket re-selling online platforms suspected of breaching consumer protection law.


Following its investigation, the CMA announced it had widespread concerns about the information that customers are provided with on secondary ticketing websites, and believed that a number of websites were in breach of the law.

As a result of the investigation, the CMA is approaching a number of secondary ticketing websites and requiring them to take remedial action. Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive, stated: “We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them. We will use the full range of our powers to get the right outcome for these sites’ customers – including taking action through the courts if needed”. While the CMA notes that changes have already been made by some websites it wants to ensure that such changes are uniform across all secondary ticketing websites.

The CMA wants to ensure that in particular that the following information is provided to consumers:

  • It must be clearly stated if there are restrictions on using a resold ticket to gain entry to an event, which could result in entry being denied;
  • It should be made clear whether the ticket is being bought from an individual, a business or an event organiser, and whether the buyer can benefit from their legal rights; and
  • Exactly where they will be sitting in the venue.

Following its findings, the CMA’s original investigation has broadened in its scope to include issues such as:

  • pressure selling – claims being made about the availability or popularity of tickets to mislead consumers and/or lead consumers to rush into making a purchase;
  • difficulty for customers in obtaining a refund under a website’s guarantee policy;
  • speculative selling – businesses advertising tickets for sale before owning such tickets, meaning that they may not eventually be able to supply them; and
  • concerns about some sporting event organisers selling tickets as a primary seller directly through a secondary ticket website, without making this clear to consumers.

The CMA will continue to gather and appraise evidence on these issues before deciding whether further enforcement action is required. It will also continue working closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which is looking into whether secondary ticketing websites have breached advertising rules, and National Trading Standards (NTS) and Trading Standards Scotland which are looking into businesses which buy and sell tickets in bulk.

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