Four major secondary ticketing websites have had their "misleading" adverts banned because they didn't make additional fees such as admin and delivery charges clear.
Adverts for Viagogo, Seatwave, StubHub and Get Me In which were used last year all breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code and must not appear again, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said.
The ASA also ruled that a Viagogo advert didn't make it clear that the website was a secondary ticketing outlet - rather than a primary outlet or "official" site. And a "100% guarantee" placed on the same ad claimed misleadingly implied consumers would definitely receive tickets on time, and allow them entry to the relevant venue, the ASA ruled.
All four websites have been told that in future total ticket prices must be made clear as soon as ticket prices are quoted.
The latest crackdown on secondary ticketing sites follows an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, which identified widespread concerns about them. See our MSE Competition watchdog to take action News story.
What were the complaints about?
Following a complaint by FanFair Alliance, which aims to tackle ticket touting, the ASA investigated whether the pricing information about additional ticket fees and charges was misleading on ads produced by each of the four websites last year.
- Seatwave – advertised a £99.50 ticket price, which did not include the booking and delivery fees.
- Viagogo – advertised a ticket for £90 but this did not include the booking fee and the delivery fee.
- StubHub – advertised a ticket for £52.99, but this did not include the service and delivery fees.
- Get Me In – a ticket advertised for £48.39 did not include the order and delivery fees.
There were two other issues facing Viagogo. One advert which appeared on Google for an Ed Sheeran concert featured the claim "Ed Sheeran Tickets 2017 - Buy Now, viagogo Official Site - viagogo.co.uk", and also stated "100% Guarantee…Guaranteed Satisfaction."
Those who complained about this advert said it implied that Viagogo was a primary ticket outlet rather than a second-hand ticket website, the ASA ruled that both the "official" and the "100% guarantee" claims were misleading.
In July last year Ed Sheeran announced that Twickets was the only site allowed to resell his tickets. See our MSE Ed Sheeran's promoter helps fans chase refunds after hundreds sold 'invalid' tickets News story for more information.
What did the websites say?
Seatwave and Get Me In said the fees depended on the number and price of the tickets selected. Based on that, they said the fee could not be calculated until they knew how many tickets were being bought.
StubHub believed that it was clear from the qualification at the bottom of the first page of the customer journey that the prices shown excluded fees.
Viagogo argued that its pricing information "was clear to consumers at every stage of the process", and all applicable additional ticket fees and charges were set out for consumers together with the total price payable before the consumer confirmed their order and agreed to purchase the tickets.
It also said that with regards to the Ed Sheeran advert, the claim "official" showed that the ad was a genuine Viagogo advert, and its "100% guarantee" claim referred to its guarantee that sellers would get paid for the tickets they sell and fulfil on time, and that buyers would receive replacement tickets or a refund in the unlikely event that a problem arose with receiving valid tickets in time for the event.
What rules did the adverts break?
The ASA ruled that all the companies' adverts breached several parts of the CAP code, which states that marketing must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
It also says that quoted prices must include non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges that apply to all or most buyers.
Prices must also state applicable delivery, freight or postal charges or, if those cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, state that such charges are payable.