Compulsory costs and charges: Secondary ticket providers


INSIGHT
Published
Apr 10th '24
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Secondary ticket providers advertise tickets sold by individuals or companies who have purchased tickets and wish to sell them on. These give people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute, or re-sell tickets they can no longer use. Secondary ticket providers must make the full price that consumers will need to pay clear, including non-optional fees, and delivery costs.

 

For general advice non-optional fees, see ‘Compulsory costs and charges: general’. For more information on ticket pricing generally, see ‘Ticket Pricing.

 

  • Include the booking fee

Ticket prices must be stated inclusive of any booking fee, unless the booking fee cannot be calculated in advance. If they cannot be calculated in advance, for example because they depend on the customers circumstances, the ad must make it clear that this is excluded and how it is calculated.

 

An ad for the secondary ticket provider Seatwave was considered misleading because the quoted ticket price did not include the booking fee. Whilst the booking fee depended on the number of tickets purchased, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considered that it was possible for the booking fee per ticket to be calculated in advance of displaying the ticket prices and that the web page should have presented the total ticket price including this fee. Even if the price had not been calculable in advance, the ad would have breached the Code because it did not state how the booking fee was calculated (Seatwave Limited, 07 March 2018).

 

  • Include VAT if necessary

All quoted prices must include VAT, unless the majority of those to whom the ad is addressed do not pay or can recover VAT. This means that all quoted prices for tickets must include VAT.

 

Complaints about ads for tickets sold by viagogo were upheld because the initial quoted ticket price did not include VAT. Whilst viagogo argued that the rate of VAT could not be calculated in advance because it depended on the customer’s county of residence, the ASA considered that, given the claims appeared on the UK version of the website, most buyers would be from the UK and would therefore pay the UK rate of VAT and as such the UK rate of VAT should have been included in the ticket price. Furthermore, viagogo would have known the address of registered viagogo customers before displaying the prices, if they had signed in at the beginning of the customer journey (Viagogo AG, 07 March 2018).

 

See also ‘Compulsory costs and charges: VAT’.

 

  • State the applicable delivery fee

Ads quoting prices must also state all applicable delivery fees or postal charges, or, if these cannot be calculated in advance, state that these charges are payable. These delivery fees should be clearly stated in the initial marketing material. An ad for event tickets on the Get Me In website stated “Prices may vary from face value and exclude order & delivery fees [hyperlink] (applicable per transaction)”. The ASA considered that the UK delivery fee could have been calculated in advance, and therefore the ad should have stated the applicable UK delivery charge alongside the ticket price. Because it did not, the ASA found the ad to be misleading (GETMEIN! Ltd, 07 March 2018)

 

See also ‘Compulsory costs and charges: delivery charges’.

 

  • Make the total price upfront straight away

The total ticket price, including all non-optional fees must be stated at the beginning of the customer journey. It is not sufficient to add these fees on to the price later in the customer journey, and customers should know the total price before they make a transactional decision to proceed.

 

An ad for the ticket provider Stubhub was upheld because the additional service and delivery fees were added to the total ticket price on the third page of the customer journey. Whilst there was a “filter button” on the first page which would display the total ticket price including these fees, the ASA considered that the ticket price inclusive of the service fee and the cost of delivery should have been made clear as soon as ticket prices were quoted, prior to selecting the “filter” button before the consumer had made a transactional decision to proceed further and concluded that the ad was misleading (StubHub (UK) Ltd, 07 March 2018).

 

  • Don’t imply you are an official primary ticket outlet

Secondary ticket providers should ensure that ads do not misleadingly imply that a website is an official primary ticket outlet.

 

In 2024, viagogo’s ads included detailed descriptions about how tickets to certain festivals and concerts could be bought and sold on viagogo’s website. The ASA thought consumers would understand the ads to mean that purchasing tickets on viagogo was one way to secure a ticket. The ads did not make consumers aware that some venues (including those listed) did not accept resale tickets, and that consumers may be refused entry. The terms and conditions of the listed events specifically prohibited secondary ticket outlets. Because the ads omitted material information about the validity of tickets purchased through viagogo, and the risk of entry being refused, the ads were deemed misleading (Viagogo AG, 10 January 2024).

 

An ad which stated “Ed Sheeran Tickets 2017 – Buy Now, viagogo Official Site – viagogo.co.uk” was upheld by the ASA because the ad did not provide any information to indicate that viagogo.co.uk was not a primary ticket outlet, or that the website was a marketplace where second-hand tickets were bought and sold. The ASA understood that the ad appeared on Google alongside primary ticket outlets and other second-hand ticket outlets after consumers searched for Ed Sheeran tickets and that in that context consumers were likely to understand the claim “official site” to mean that viagogo.co.uk was an official primary ticket outlet. As the ASA considered consumers would have more confidence buying from an “official site” than they would from a secondary ticket outlet, this was considered misleading (Viagogo AG, 07 March 2018).

 

Finally, ticket providers must not suggest that consumers will always receive genuine tickets if it cannot guarantee that those tickets will be genuine. Complaints about the claim “Guaranteed genuine tickets” were upheld because the advertiser was not able to guarantee that buyers would always be able to successfully gain entry to their chosen event (StubHub (UK) Ltd, 25 March 2020). See also similar ‘100% Guarantee’ claim in Viagogo AG, 07 March 2018.

 

See also Guidance on ticket pricing in marketing communications and Ticket Pricing for further information.

 

Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)

 

About CAP

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) is the sister organisation of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and is responsible for writing the Advertising Codes.

 

Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.

 

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