Changes in Consumer rights Could Mean Ticket Re-sellers Are Breaking The Law
People sell on their concert or match tickets for a variety of reasons – illness, a diary clash, or even just because they no longer want to go. Rather than deny somebody else the opportunity of attending, fans will normally give their tickets away to friends or family or sell them on through websites like StubHub and Viagogo.
Last month, however, the law regarding selling tickets on the secondary market was subtly changed following the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act. The amendments in the Act mean that anybody selling a ticket on an online platform now has to provide far more information about the ticket being sold than previously, including the exact seat number, the face value of the ticket and any restrictions that apply. If they do not disclose this information fans will be breaking the law – even if they don’t realise it.
Following the law could also prove hazardous
While it is clear that breaking any law could have grave consequences, in this instance, so could following it. Because fans now have to put so much information online whenever they sell a ticket, event organisers will find it much easier to identify them and cancel their tickets if the terms and conditions prevent it from being sold on – as they frequently do. There is also the possibility that fans may find themselves blacklisted by the event organiser as well.
MPs and ministers have argued that this won’t be able to happen, as such terms and conditions would be struck down as ‘unfair’ by the courts. The problem with this, however, is that the Consumer Rights Act also amends the law around “unfair terms”, saying that a term can now no longer be deemed as unfair if it is “transparent and prominent”.
This suggests that, contrary to what we are being told by politicians, terms and conditions allowing event organisers to cancel tickets they find being sold on would be seen as ‘fair’ under the law. This does not bode well for anyone who has bought a ticket to the Rugby World Cup, for example, and they find that they can no longer use it. They will either have to pay the organisers a processing fee to return it or give it away for free.
What do consumers want?
The current situation puts fans at a significant disadvantage. And recent polling by consumer rights group, Fan Freedom UK has shown that just under two thirds of fans believe they should be able to sell tickets that they can no longer use, so it seems they will be in a shock if they ever find themselves in a position where they wish to do so. See infographic for more information.
A spokesperson from Fan Freedom UK said: “So many fans have no idea the government has changed the law. Many of these people are committed supporters of sport and the arts and give up a lot of their time and money towards these pursuits. It is totally unfair for them to be treated in this way.”
The group believes it can get the ticketing amendments in the Consumer Rights Act repealed, however, pointing out that “the new legislation contains a statutory requirement for a review of the secondary ticketing market to take place within a year of the relevant provisions coming into effect. We will make sure the government and MPs fully understand the consequences of this law and will be using the review as an opportunity to encourage them to clarify where fans stand on this issue as soon as possible.”
For the time being the law will stay as it is, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye out for any developments.