Protection for Online Event Ticket Buyers
Buying tickets for sporting events, music concerts and live shows can be a minefield. Some of the terms and conditions that you find on the back of tickets can be unfair, and the Office of Fair Trading, the UK’s main consumer watchdog, has announced a new code of practice which will ensure that the small print on ticket purchases should be "clearer and fairer" in future.
The new code, run by the Society of Ticket Agent Retailers (STAR), says that consumers must be dealt with fairly, and says that all ticket resale businesses need to have complaints procedures and a refund policy in place. The improvements include:
- Making it clear what will happen if an event has to be cancelled or rescheduled
- Giving clearer information on any circumstances where people can seek redress if something goes wrong
- Giving ticket buyers a dispute resolution service
- Telling consumers whether they are allowed to resell their tickets.
Who Does the Code Apply to?The code from the Office of Fair Trading and STAR will cover members of the Society of Ticket Agent Retailers. The members of Star are all ticket resellers, such as lastminute.com or Ticketmaster. All approved sellers will display a logo that confirms they are part of the organisation and have signed up to the code of conduct.
It does not cover sales on auction sites like eBay, unregulated ticket reselling websites, or personal sales. If you are the victim of a scam or your tickets don’t arrive through an eBay sale, you can use the site's own dispute resolution procedure, and if you buy tickets through an unregulated site, and your tickets cost more than £100, it’s advisable that you pay on a credit card, as you have some protection under the Consumer Credit Act.
The Consumers' Association Which? said that the new regulations were a good thing, but was concerned that the new code of conduct didn’t go far enough in protecting members of the public from unscrupulous ticket sellers. A lot of problems with ticket sales come about because people have tried to get a refund on tickets that haven’t arrived – and they find that the sellers have disappeared.
Wimbledon Tickets ScamTicket fraud can affect all types of event – people are out to make a fast buck from consumers eager to get to sold out events like next year’s Glastonbury – or the Wimbledon Tennis tournament.
The All England Club lawyers were forced to involve the Metropolitan Police in investigating recent allegations of ticket fraud in 2009 that are said to have cost unlucky Wimbledon fans hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In one case, a Romanian businessman paid £11,000 to a website calling itself onlinewimbledontickets.com for just two pairs of tickets in June 2009 – a pair for each of the men's and women's semi-finals. The tickets didn’t arrive and he was told that they had been sent directly to the All England Club. Of course, they hadn’t.
Another 50 people complained to the club that they had paid for non-existent tickets to the same website, and there are fears that more people have fallen victim to the scam who just haven’t come forward yet. The site looked plausible, with good branding and seemed to be legitimate – but unfortunately it seems that people were taken in by a sophisticated scam.