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Reaction: ASA investigation delivers a further blow to ticket resale websites

7 March 2018
Today (7 March), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has delivered a further blow to the secondary ticketing industry after ruling that four large sites, StubHub UK, Viagogo, Seatwave and GetMeIn! were misleading consumers as to the pricing of the tickets sold on their websites and are in breach of the CAP Code.  

This was a co-ordinated ASA investigation. Most rulings are ASA responses that are made by consumers or competitors, but following the Competition and Markets Authority’s decision in November 2017 to take enforcement action against sites suspected of breaking consumer protection law, the ASA has taken matters into its own hands. 

The ASA investigated the complaints and found that all four sites had failed to ‘clearly’ include service and delivery fees in the advertised ticket prices, and so were misleading customers as to the real costs of the tickets they were buying.

Brands and advertising lawyer at Browne Jacobson, Alex Watt commented on the ruling:

“It is interesting to see the ASA operating in this more aggressive way, it has been saying for a long time that it would be taking an increasingly proactive approach to failings such as these - and these Rulings are the result. It is interesting, and most likely not irrelevant to the ASA’s decision to action, that these sites have tended to have high fees. Such fees are often charged on a commission basis and, whilst there is no law against that, it has meant that sites have tended to make those fees less visible to the consumer when they are enticing them into the purchase. 

Ticketing sites of this sort need to be aware henceforth that this is one of the areas that the ASA is hot on and to be extra-careful to abide by CAP CODE rule 3.4, which requires marketing communications to clearly include the total price of the advertised product together with any delivery charges, rather than having those described in a linked page or elsewhere on the page where they are less visible” 

 

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