Secondary Ticket Sales

What are secondary ticket sales?

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Secondary ticketing refers to the practice of reselling tickets for recreational, sporting or cultural events. This happens most frequently through websites which specifically cater for the resale of tickets, also known as “secondary ticketing platforms”; however advertising and sales also take place through other online marketplaces, websites and by other means.

The Problem:

Secondary ticketing platforms allow event fans to sell unwanted tickets. However, some individuals and businesses are bulk buying event tickets and selling them through these platforms at inflated prices. Many consumers are misled when buying tickets from secondary platforms as the information necessary to make an informed decision about the purpose is not always displayed.

These traders use a variety of methods to harvest large numbers of tickets, often as soon as they originally go on sale and before many genuine fans can obtain them.  These tickets are then resold, primarily through secondary ticketing platforms.

It is not illegal to simply buy and resell tickets, unless there is specific legislation in place to restrict or prohibit it outright. For example, there is legislation which restricts the resale of tickets for Euro 2020 football matches and for certain matches in England and Wales. There is also a range of legislation which may apply generally to the resale of event tickets:

If done for commercial gain, it can be an offence under the Breaching of Limits on Ticket Sales Regulations 2018 for a person to use software with the intent of obtaining more tickets than is allowed under the purchase limit for that event

Required Information

Anyone reselling tickets via secondary ticketing platforms is required under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to provide specific information:

  • The location in the venue to which the ticket gives access, such as the particular seat or standing area of the venue
  • Any restrictions around who can use the ticket or how it must be used (e.g. alongside the ID of the original buyer)
  • The original price of the ticket
  • Details of any connection the seller has with either the online facility on which they are selling or the event for which the ticket is being sold
  • The unique ticket number, if specified by the event organiser

For business sellers, it is also an offence under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 to give misleading information to potential consumers or to fail to give adequate information. This applies when advertising and selling tickets through secondary ticketing platforms or by other means.

Problems for Fans

Some of the most common problems encountered by fans who have purchased tickets on the secondary market are:

  • Being refused entry to the event venue as they have not been informed about restrictions around the use of the ticket, such as age restrictions
  • Being refused entry to the event venue as their ID does not match the name of the original buyer printed on the ticket
  • Arriving at the venue to discover that their seats have a restricted view, which they were not informed about when they purchased the ticket
  • Purchasing tickets which are not delivered in time for the event, or not received at all
  • Having to pay hidden charges, such as admin fees or postage, which customers are not aware of until after they have entered their payment details
  • Being unable to get a refund for the tickets if the event is cancelled, postponed or changed
  • Being unable to contact customer service in the event of any problems
  • Having their payment details stolen by a fraudulent website

What you can do

  • Always check the event website before you buy a second hand ticket. Secondary ticketing websites will sometimes advertise event tickets before they have officially gone on sale, which means that you could be buying a ticket that the seller does not yet have themselves. Tickets are also often advertised at higher prices on secondary sites when they are still available at face value on the primary market
  • Read the organiser’s terms and conditions – some events restrict how tickets can be resold and by whom
  • Check whether you will need photographic ID to gain entrance to the event
  • If possible, purchase your ticket from the official event organiser or venue website at face value
  • If you are buying on the secondary market, check that the seller is registered with the Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers (STAR): Take a note of the seller’s name and, if they are a business, their address in case you need to contact them at a later date
  • Be aware of the information which ticket sellers are required to provide. Sellers may be committing an offence if they fail to disclose relevant information
  • If possible, pay for tickets by card; preferably credit rather than debit. Be suspicious if you are asked to make a bank transfer as this may be a scam

If you feel that you have been mis-sold a ticket or that the seller has failed to supply you with the relevant information, report the incident to Advice Direct Scotland. This will help us to identify problems and take action within the secondary ticketing market.

Case Study

A customer bought two concert tickets online and paid £550. When the tickets arrived, the face value was £95 each and they stated that photographic evidence was required to gain entry to the event. This was also stated on the official event website, but hadn’t been mentioned by the seller. The customer was refused entry to the concert as their photographic ID didn’t match the name of the person who originally purchased the ticket. 

Find out more in our PDF: Heckle Scammers