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ASA clamps down on misleading pricing practices by secondary ticketing providers

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today (Wednesday 7 March) taken action against four of the main operators in the secondary ticketing sector [StubHub UK, viagogo AG, Seatwave Ltd, GET ME IN! Ltd], banning the misleading presentation of pricing information on their websites.

The ASA's action responds to ongoing concerns (including from the campaign group Fanfair Alliance) about misleading pricing by secondary ticketing providers. Following formal investigations which ran concurrently as part of a sector-wide sweep, the ASA has found that the advertisers were not upfront and clear with consumers about additional ticket fees and charges that were added at the end of the booking process.

In summary, the ASA has banned several pricing practices by these secondary ticketing providers for:

  • Not making clear the total ticket price at the beginning of the customer journey
  • Not including the booking fee (inclusive of VAT) upfront
  • Not making clear the applicable delivery fee

In addition, the ASA has also banned viagogo from using the claim "official site" because it misleadingly implied it was an official primary ticket outlet rather than a second-hand ticket website. It has also banned viagogo from making the claim "100% Guarantee", which the ASA considered suggested that consumers were guaranteed entry to the relevant venue when there was in fact a reasonable risk that buyers might not be able to gain entry into an event [the investigated ad suggested that consumers who bought viagogo tickets would be guaranteed to gain entry into an Ed Sheeran concert when that was not the case].

The UK advertising rules require quoted prices to include non-optional taxes and fees that apply to all or most buyers. Advertisers should also state any applicable delivery fees. The secondary ticketing operators will now have to ensure their ticket pricing is transparent by including clear and relevant information about the additional fees at the beginning of the customer journey before the consumer makes a decision concerning whether to proceed further.

The ASA's action forms part of its commitment to be more proactive and undertake more sector- and issue-wide projects. And its work in this area complements broader sector wide enforcement action by the Competition and Markets Authority as well as the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy who have issued new rules to increase transparency in the secondary ticketing market, providing greater clarity for consumers and helping ensure they are paying a fair price.

Commenting on the rulings 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. 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."

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