Consumer rights

Worth booking panto tickets through Viagogo? Oh no it’s not!

Planning to book panto tickets through Viagogo? Think twice as the website may charge a 15% fee on top of the ticket price

  • Sellers also typically see 10% of the purchase price taken as a commission
  • Competition regulator wants to toughen rules for secondary ticketing sites
  • Buyers must always use a credit card to make a purchase

Theater and concert goers looking to book New Years tickets – notwithstanding lockdown restrictions – are cautioned against using ticketing websites which can cause users to overpay for a service that does not. does not work.

Companies such as Viagogo and sister company StubHub may charge buyers a 15% fee on top of the ticket price, which may well be inflated.

Sellers often get a gross deal as well, typically seeing 10 percent of the purchase price taken as commission by the website.

Outfits such as Viagogo and sister company StubHub may charge buyers a 15% fee (pictured: Jack and The Beanstalk pantomime at Hackney Empire in London)

Many people ignore until too late that these secondary ticketing sites are making such a big margin in a poorly regulated market.

The government-backed Competition and Markets Authority wants to tighten the rules to ensure that resellers are prohibited from selling more tickets to an event than they can legally buy in the primary market.

He is also keen to ensure that the charges are clearly advertised.

Consumer group Which one? has long campaigned against the use of such ticketing services.

Adam French, a consumer rights expert at Which ?, says: “We do not recommend purchasing tickets from secondary ticketing sites, as your rights can be significantly reduced if something goes wrong.”

He adds: “The face value of a ticket should always be clearly displayed so that buyers – as well as sellers – know exactly how much more they are paying.”

French says buyers should always use a credit card to make a purchase. This is because under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, a card issuing company is also liable with the merchant if there are problems with the tickets, such as they do not arise. not present.

Unfortunately, protection only kicks in if you spend more than £ 100.

Buyers should always try to purchase tickets through an official source first – for example, the venue where the event is taking place.

Although secondary websites are legal, they might not be able to help you if you are not happy with the tickets purchased, for example if you do not get the seats requested.

If you want to change tickets or get a refund, you will also be on your own.

A better course of action is to look for an agent who is registered with the Code of Conduct overseen by the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (Star). These can be identified by a star shaped logo inside a padlock.

These agents are committed to being open and transparent about booking fees, processing fees and postage.

A spokesperson for Star said, “If the reasons for the additional charge are unclear, forgo the purchase.”

A reputable ticket sales website should also offer a money back guarantee in case a ticket you receive turns out to be fake.

You don’t get it automatically if you buy through a secondary ticketing website.

A Viagogo spokesperson said: “As a regulated market, we provide a safe and secure platform for customers to compare ticket prices and access events they might otherwise have missed. All tickets sold through us are backed by a “Viagogo Guarantee” offering industry-leading consumer protection. “

This did not prevent Viagogo and StubHub from being criticized by the Competition and Markets Authority for providing potentially misleading information about ticket availability for the advertised shows.

How to prevent touts from selling fakes

For anyone buying theater tickets in London, the official discount shop – TKTS in Leicester Square – offers half-price same-day tickets and discounts for West End shows. It is currently open seven days a week.

If you’re happy to leave it at the last minute, you can also bet on showing up at the theater box office half an hour before the curtain rises for a chance to get a discounted round trip ticket or a spare ticket.

Secondary ticket websites can help those willing to pay more for a sold-out show ticket and you might find some great deals for events where there are still seats available, but you have to beware.

Ticket touts outside theaters and other events should be avoided at all costs. A common trick is for touts to dress the inexpensive seats like “the best in the house.”

In some cases, you might end up with a fake – and be turned back at the door.

George Lusty, Director of the Competition and Markets Authority, said: “With more live events expected next year, we want to strengthen the laws governing the sale of side tickets.”