Been ripped off by online ticket scalpers? Bought tickets that never got delivered? Been denied a refund for a dud ticket, or ignored by non-existent customer service? We want to hear from you.
An international coalition of consumer groups has come together to
catalogue complaints about shonky ticket scalping websites.
CHOICE has teamed up with its counterparts Consumers New Zealand and WHICH?
in the UK to survey fans and people working in the sport and live
performance industries about their experiences with ticket resale sites.
In the wake of an investigation into the secondary ticket market, people
began contacting CHOICE, complaining they'd been taken a ride by Viagogo
and other resale sites. Issues ranged from undisclosed fees illegally
dripped in during the sale process, tickets not being valid at the venue,
to tickets never arriving at all.
However, the worldwide reach of websites like Viagogo, Stubhub and
Ticketmaster Resale means that problems aren't restricted to just one
"From outrageous ticket price mark-ups of over 300% to denying refunds and
selling fake tickets, the time has come to say fair's fair and stop these
resale websites are ripping off consumers from Melbourne to Manchester,"
says CHOICE head of media, Tom Godfrey.
The survey will collect stories from consumers and employees in the
industry around the world, to get an understanding of the scale of problems
in the ticket resale market. The results of the survey will be delivered to
regulators in each market to help drive the necessary reforms needed to
"Whether you're a fan, an artist or part of the industry, we want to hear
more about your experience of the ticket resale market," says Godfrey.
"Clearly it's not in the interests of fans, artists or venues to have
ticket holders turned away from venues having fallen victim to the
predatory business practices of ticket resale sites."
Music industry insiders have long been frustrated with the growth of ticket
resale websites, and many feel it takes undercuts the principle of fair
access, where the opportunities to see a show or game shouldn't just go to
those who can afford to pay the most.
"Frontier believes that the only person who should be able to decide what a
fan has to pay to see a show is the artist. The secondary market takes away
an artist's right to set the price," says Dion Brant, chief operating officer at
Frontier Touring, which organises Australian shows for big name acts like
Midnight Oil and Green Day.
Last month Wil Wagner, frontman of the Melbourne group The Smith Street
Band, lashed out at scalpers profiteering from their upcoming tour. In
response to reporting by Triple J, a Ticketmaster spokesperson appeared to put blame on the artists whose tickets they sell, for selling them for less
than they were worth and allowing the secondary market to exist.
"We don't and will never see it that way," says Brant. "If an artist
chooses to maximise every dollar they have that right, but if an artist
chooses to set the price lower, to make the shows accessible to as many
fans as possible and not just wealthy fans, they also should have that
right. Ticket scalping and the websites that enable it to flourish take
what we see as a basic right away from the artist."
Viagogo is home to some of the trickiest sales tactics found online, which
they use to drive consumers to purchase tickets at massive mark-ups.
Tickets to the Vivid Sydney opera event The Nixon Tapes are being
sold on Viagogo at over four times the face value. On Viagogo you'll pay
more than the total cost of the original ticket in booking fees alone.
Viagogo flashes warnings that "Tickets are likely to sell out soon!" and
that some sections are already sold out. Pop-ups, countdowns, and virtual
queues add to the artificial sense of urgency, making users think they have
to buy now or risk missing out.
In fact, this means only that there are a few tickets left on the resale
site. At time of writing, official seller Sydney Opera House still has many
tickets available, including in the supposedly "sold out" sections. The
Opera House has a strict anti-scalping policy, with customers reportedly
being told by staff that anyone fronting up to the box office with on-sold
tickets will have them voided.
Resale sites "go out of their way to ensure that fans don't know they're
not legitimate," says Brant. "The brands sponsor sports teams, events,
issue press releases about hot shows, buy advertising, anything to make
them look like a legitimate part of the industry.
"Pressure tactics are used to close the sale, you are told thousands of
other people are looking at the same events as you are – it must be
legitimate right? All of this effort to look legitimate and yet the bottom
line is that fans may be buying tickets that don't get them into the gig,
and even if they are buying legitimate tickets they are almost certainly
paying too much."
Brant says resale sites that use underhanded sales tactics are damaging
consumers' faith in the rest of the industry: "It is inevitable that trust
is damaged and the audience for that artist and live events more generally
is diminished as a result."
Tips for buying tickets online
Sign up for presale ticket alerts to avoid disappointment.
Buy tickets directly from the venue or the official ticket seller.
Check with the venue about resale restrictions before buying a resold
Don't assume the first search result is the official seller: resale sites
often buy the top spot on Google searches.
Travelling overseas? Be especially wary when buying tickets to events
outside the country.