As the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) deadline, 29 May, arrives for secondary ticketing companies to remove any misleading price claims from their websites, consumers, in theory at least, have a new level of protection.
Secondary ticketing sites – including Viagogo, StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me IN! – could now face significant fines if they do advertise misleading price claims on their websites.
The market is big business and cover concerts, sporting events, theatre and festival tickets.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker, writing in The Times newspaper 29 May, said recent investigations and a sector-wide sweep uncovered various misleading pricing practices: “The big four companies were not being upfront about additional fees and charges. People lured in by attractive initial prices were hit with big fees towards the end of the process. We saw an example of tickets advertised at £180 where the final price ended up as £250, a 39 per cent rise.”
Parker added that his authority was committed to putting a stop to the practice. While he said the preference was not to involve trading standards in the sector, if agencies didn’t co-operate, the ASA chief executive said his authority would not hesitate to take action.
The agency’s recent ruling means that the price people see at the start of a booking should be the price they pay at the end.
Advertising rules require business to include non-optional charges and fees upfront.
The ASA’s work is buttressed by new efforts to crack down on the problem by the Competition and Markets Authority and the Department for Business, which has issued new rules to increase transparency in the secondary ticketing market.