Why it’s now time to protect the free market for tickets


All free market advocates should call on the government to repeal the unwelcome amendments made to the Consumer Rights Act

While we’re busy enjoying the first majority Conservative government for nearly two decades it can be easy to forget the previous five years of being beholden to the Lib Dems. There are always small reminders, however, of the unwelcome legacy that they left behind.

One of the most egregious of these saw the party shoehorn an amendment into the Consumer Rights Act just before the last general election which made it far harder for genuine music and sports fans to buy and sell tickets for live events on the secondary market. The Conservative side of the coalition, fearing the whole Bill could fall over this issue, capitulated.

This now means that anybody selling tickets on an online platform needs to provide more information than they did previously – including the exact seat number of the ticket being sold, as well as its face value and any other restrictions that apply. While this may seem fairly innocuous, its purpose is far more sinister in that it provides event organisers with just enough information to cancel tickets that they find being sold online outside of their pre-approved channels.

This would not be a problem if these pre-approved channels were not so restrictive. For instance, terms and conditions on many tickets dictate that you must only sell at ‘face value’, meaning you are not allowed to sell a ticket for more or less than you originally paid for it. On top of this, you are normally always charged a ‘processing fee’ by the event organiser to resell a ticket back to them, meaning that while you’re not allowed to make a profit off the ticket, the retailer most certainly is.

Such restrictive measures fly in the face of the principle that when somebody buys something, they should own it completely. Unfortunately, thanks to the amendment to the Consumer Rights Act, this is no longer the case. An analogous situation would be buying a car and finding that when you went to sell it, you could only give it back to the garage that you bought it from at the price they have set. This is absurd and would not be tolerated by consumers. The question therefore has to be asked; why they are tolerating this.

If such acquiescence is surprising, the fact that event organisers lobbied so hard for these changes is not. It has helped them tighten their grip on the market and maximise their profits. One of the main arguments they made was that they wanted to prevent the operation of touts. In reality, however, all that will be achieved is people moving away from safe and secure online platforms and back into the arms of street touts.

The only thing they have demonstrated is that they are in no way interested in protecting consumers. Their only consideration is in monopolising the market and lining their own pockets – something they’ve shown themselves to be surprisingly good at. It should also be noted that these practices are not limited to the UK. In the US, multiple sports clubs have been found to be cancelling tickets being resold by fans outside of the club’s affiliated resale website.

Event organisers have no business in pushing such anti-competitive measures, and all free market advocates should call on the government to repeal the unwelcome amendments made to the Consumer Rights Act by the Lib Dems during their inglorious time in power. Luckily, an upcoming review of the entire ticket market, being undertaken by DCMS, should help achieve this.

To take part in this process and show your support for a free market for tickets, you can sign up to Fan Freedom UK – a consumer right’s organisation fighting for fan’s rights. This can be done by clicking HERE, where there is also a link to help you write to your MP, outlining your concerns.

One Comment