Sold out: consumers and the ticket resale industry

Sold out: consumers and the ticket resale industry

Sold out by ticket resellers

We’ve heard how music lovers, sports fans, theatre goers and musicians are fed up with fake tickets, tired of shows selling out immediately, and sick of shady resale websites and their excessive fees.

We worked with consumer groups from across the world to find the best way to fix this problem. After talking with over 1000 fans about the problems we had, we wrote a report that looks at the major problems and offers solutions to make ticketing fairer for all consumers.

Making ticket resale better for consumers

The ticket resale industry is booming, and estimated to be worth over $US15 billion globally. After a CHOICE investigation found dodgy practices in the ticket resale industry, we asked fans to tell us about their experience with the ticket resale market in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Over 1000 fans told us about their problems with the ticket resale industry, and with these case studies we wrote our report exposing this problematic market.

The ticket resale industry has a legitimate reason to exist – many consumers purchase tickets for events months in advance and there should be clear and transparent ways for them to on-sell tickets should their plans change. Others want the convenience of purchasing unwanted tickets last minute, either prepared to pay a premium or waiting to snag a bargain. However, there are significant problems with the way this market is functioning, often resulting in harm to consumers.

The industry, however, is beset with problems including sneaky hidden fees, lacklustre customer service and unfair sales tactics. While a thriving and fair ticket resale market should be a boon for consumers, the problems can, and do, outweigh the benefits.

Urgent reform is needed – sign up today to make ticketing fairer.

Backstage: what's the trouble with ticket resale?

A CHOICE investigation uncovered the shady world of ticket resale websites. Consumers reported paying excessive fees, receiving fake tickets, and lacklustre customer service.

The ticket scalping scene – politely called the “secondary ticket market” – has seen a huge change in the last few years, as dedicated resale websites have moved into the market.

Swiss-based Viagogo launched in Australia in late 2013, followed by Ticketmaster Resale in mid-2014.

These sites act as middlemen for ticket on-sellers and their customers, providing the platforms to list tickets, in addition to facilitating the transaction. Sellers can list tickets at any price they want, and the free market takes care of the rest. The website takes a commission. In many cases tickets are being on-sold to shows that haven’t even sold out yet. When CHOICE visited Viagogo to check out prices to Adele’s upcoming tour, we found listings for the “Cheapest in Sydney!” at $145. Far from it: these tickets were $41 more than the cheapest tickets still available through the official outlet.

It seems profiteering scalpers have moved their business to the very platforms which were designed to thwart them. Scalpers are also rumoured to let bots loose on primary market websites, buying up tickets faster than any human and on-selling to fans at a huge mark-up.

Following a complaint by CHOICE in March 2017, ticket reseller Viagogo is being taken to Federal Court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after consumers lodged more than 400 complaints against the Switzerland-based company in one year alone.

The competition watchdog is alleging Viagogo breached Australian Consumer Law by making false and misleading representations, and by engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct.

The court action comes after a CHOICE investigation into ticket resellers found Viagogo was among the worst for a number of reasons, including its use of drip pricing and its opaque advertising methods.

Find out more.