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More scrutiny of ticket touting in Parliament next week, Viagogo to appear

By | Published on Friday 17 March 2017

Ticket touts

Parliament’s Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee will again put the spotlight on ticket touting next week, and given how badly the secondary ticketing industry’s reps performed the last time the committee discussed such things, everyone in the anti-tout camp is very excited indeed.

Headlining for the tout ticklers this time is an albeit unnamed official from Viagogo, which in recent years has become the secondary ticketing platform the other secondary ticketing platforms look at when they want to feel good about themselves. In the olden days Viagogo’s PR reps were always pushing forward the firm’s execs with a quote, but of late a strategy of silence seems to have been adopted. It’s almost as if they now operate out of a bunker somewhere in the Islamic State.

Viagogo was most recently seen in the CMU Daily refusing to comply with Iron Maiden’s wishes to keep tickets for their shows off the secondary market, and also helping shady touts rip off the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is definitely hard to spin into a positive. The latter story was in relation to the massively hiked up prices being charged for touted tickets for Ed Sheeran’s Royal Albert Hall concert in aid of the cancer charity. Sheeran’s manager is also due to speak during next week’s select committee hearing, as is a rep from a group called Victims Of Viagogo. So that’ll be fun.

Although select committees exist to scrutinise government, rather that dictate policy, the Culture, Media & Sport Committee’s last session on ticketing put the specific ban on tout bots in the Digital Economy Bill back on the agenda. Ministers had previously said that they thought the use of such software by touts to buy up tickets off primary sites was probably already illegal under other legislation.

Next week’s hearing comes just after the government confirmed that it accepted all of the recommendations of last year’s Waterson Review of the secondary ticketing market. That includes better enforcement of existing ticket resale regulation in the Consumer Rights Act, and putting pressure on the resale platforms – so eBay’s StubHub and Live Nation’s Seatwave and Get Me In, as well as the infamous Viagogo – to identify the industrial-level touts using their services, who are likely subject to extra consumer rights regulation given they resell tickets on a commercial basis.