The Advertising Standards Authority has announced a crackdown on the four major secondary ticket sellers.
The access to data has been pivotal to a major shift in the music industry. A few years ago, artists could sell hundreds of thousands of units to a growing audience, but still, have no idea who they are and where they are from. The rise of music data tools like TalentAI, the domination of streaming giants like Spotify, and digital strategies, means that this process has been streamlined. If a strategy is well executed, a listener can hear a tune for the first time and buy a ticket for a concert in a few clicks. However, with on-demand buying habits and increased access to data, secondary ticket selling sites have grown rapidly, leaving some concert-goers out of pocket.
Recently, the advertising watchdog has accused StubHub UK, Viagogo, Seatwave and GetMeIn of misleading customers in search of music concert and event tickets. In its formal investigations, the ASA found out that the four companies had failed to be transparent in regards to additional fees and charges added to at the end of the booking processes.
As a result, it said that it had banned the operators from using certain terms and claims in its adverts. The investigation and future protocol set out by the ASA ensures that ticket reselling sites align with advertising rules which require quoted prices to include fees and non-optional taxes from the beginning of the transaction.
Secondary ticketing companies must ensure that their pricing is transparent by including clear and relevant information about additional fees at the beginning of the “customer journey” – so before a potential buyer makes a decision about whether to go ahead with a purchase, the ASA said.
Commenting on the investigation, ASA chief executive Guy Parker said, “many of us will recognise the frustration of being happy with the initial price of tickets on a secondary website only to be stung by hefty fees when we come to book.”
He continued, “the message from our rulings is simple and it’s clear: the price you see at the start should be the price you pay at the end.”
Artists including global best selling artist Ed Sheeran have called out such sites in the past and have encouraged gig-goers to avoid certain sites. Whilst these investigations identify a certain level of mistrust which has been built between the consumer and secondary ticketing websites, it is important to remember that such sites can and do offer a very important service. The ability for last-minute ticket purchasing and reselling is crucial to the day-to-day operation of the live music industry. However, it is essential for the law to be followed and any bad practice to be ironed out by the authorities.
In response to the ASA announcement on Wednesday, representatives from the ticketing sites released their statements. A spokesperson for StubHub said that the company would back “any measures which make ticket buying easier, more convenient and more transparent for fans”.
“We welcome this opportunity to work closely with the ASA and we will be fully compliant with its decision. We hope that other players in the ticketing industry, including primary issuers, follow suit,” the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson Seatwave and GetMeIn owners Ticketmaster, said: “Our ticket resale sites already ensure fans know exactly what they will pay at every stage of the buying process, displaying all fees as soon as the customer selects and submits the number of tickets they are looking to buy.”
We will continue to work with both the ASA and the CMA to further develop levels of transparency and consumer protection within the UK ticketing sector.”
Live music is essential for the progression of the industry and it is hoped that the outcome of this investigation will improve the transparency between ticket resellers and gig-goers.