Correspondence sent to and by the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s officers will be posted here.
16 JUNE 2014 – RESPONSE FROM TICKETMASTER/GET ME IN! AND REPLY FROM CO-CHAIRS
The original letters can be downloaded by clicking the icons below; the text of the letters is copied below.
LETTER FROM TICKETMASTER/GET ME IN!, RECEIVED 13 JUNE 2014
Dear Ms. Hodgson,
Response to the APPG on Ticket Abuse: Secondary Market Investigation – Putting fans first
Following the release of the APPG on Ticket Abuse’s report Secondary Market Investigation: Putting fans first, Ticketmaster would like to take this opportunity to respond to the recommendations included in the report and to clarify a few of the points raised.
Above all, we welcome the APPG’s recognition of the unworkable and impractical nature of a cap on resale mark-ups (ref: recommendation 14). We also see your support of measures to tackle fraud, especially the use of botnets and computer software (ref: recommendation 15), as a positive and something we have argued for consistently, submitting draft clauses for Parliament’s consideration during the Committee Stage of the Consumer Rights Bill.
While we fully support the need for transparency in the secondary market and welcome the APPG’s support for tackling fraud, we feel that a number of the recommendations included in the report will have a negative impact on consumers by pushing the market underground or offshore. Furthermore these recommendations ignore much of the evidence provided to the APPG during the evidence sessions.
Secondary ticket platforms provide a marketplace for others to sell tickets; they do not sell the tickets themselves. Consequently, we feel that a number of the recommendations are either difficult to enforce or would unfairly penalise buyers and sellers, and most importantly, genuine fans.
We believe introducing legislation for just one sector is not good practice in principle. We have an existing statutory framework which works well. Consumer protection law, currently being revised and updated in the Parliament, ensures transparency and fair dealing. Competition law prevents restrictions or distortions
of the market. Criminal law provides tough sanctions against fraud. Additionally, we have a new body, the Competition and Markets Authority, working to promote fair markets and competition for consumers. Overall, we believe that the existing legal framework in the UK provides a fair basis for consumers and for our operations.
Further to my evidence provided to the Group, I have provided a response to those recommendations we feel are most pertinent to us below.
Recommendations relating to the Consumer Rights Bill and provision of information for ticket purchases (ref: recommendations 1, 2, 4 and 10)
We would question whether it is necessary to amend primary legislation to include clauses that are restrictive and specific to one sector. We are concerned that adopting some of these recommendations would raise issues of privacy or undermine freedom of competition. Our platform offers consumers variety of choice when it comes to price, but as we provide a marketplace for others to sell tickets and do not sell the tickets ourselves, it would be difficult for us to verify information for every ticket/event sold on our site or provide certain information about sellers without raising privacy issues. Displaying the face value of tickets is common practice within the industry and we believe it makes for a more transparent purchasing process for the consumer. Finally, we would like to point to the OFT review of the practices in the secondary ticket market in 2012 and their conclusion that the terms and conditions proposed by Mrs Hodgson were anti-consumer.
Recommendations relating to prevention of fraud (ref: recommendations 7, 8 and 9)
We do not believe these recommendations are necessary. Whilst we recognise that fraud is an issue, we do not think there is evidence to suggest that it is a greater problem in the secondary ticket market than in other markets and would question why only one sector should be singled out to adopt such measures. We believe the best way to address fraud is by working closely with the relevant authorities – something we already do – in addition to providing a safe and secure platform which ensures fans have a guarantee when purchasing tickets. Furthermore, we would question whether creating a new national police unit solely for dealing with fraud in the secondary ticket market is a priority for the police force and the best use of police resources.
Recommendation relating to football clubs (ref: recommendation 17)
This is already one of the most highly regulated areas of ticket sales and legislation is already in place. We are not convinced there is a need for any further action; most fans are selling unused season ticket seats, which is popular with shift workers and people with families who can’t make matches.
Additionally, we would like to clarify a statement included in the report relating to transparency on allocation of tickets. The report states that GET ME IN! confirmed that it takes allocations directly from event-holders (see section titled Role of Event Holders – Transparency on Allocation of Tickets, page 10, paragraph 4) but at no
point during the evidence sessions were we asked about this or confirmed this unprompted. Please can we ask that you amend the pdf report on your website to reflect this?
I would be happy to discuss any of the points raised above in further detail.
Managing Director for Ticketmaster Resale
RESPONSE FROM THE APPG’S CO-CHAIRS, SENT 16 JUNE 2014
Dear Mr Homann,
Thank you for your letter of 13 June, responding to our report of 25 April.
I am sure you will be unsurprised that we disagree with your reasons for rejecting measures which would increase transparency in the secondary ticketing market and improve recourse for the significant minority of fans who purchase invalidated or counterfeit tickets through secondary platforms.
Nonetheless, we thank you for continuing to engage with us on these issues, and will publish a copy of your letter on the APPG’s website to ensure that your point of view is put across there.
On the subject of transparency, we note that you have not addressed our letter of 15 May, which followed the debate on these issues at Report Stage in the House of Commons, during which the Minister confirmed that new statutory regulations which came into force a few days ago would apply to secondary ticketing platforms.
Despite the fact that secondary platforms are now required by these regulations to publish seat numbers and face values, taking one example of the 2 July Monty Python show, we note that this is still not the case on your website. As such, we ask again what action you are taking to ensure that your service complies with current UK law.
With regard to your dispute of our interpretation of your comments on the direct allocation of tickets to Get Me In! from those involved in putting on an event (that is to say, tickets which have never been available to the public but are being traded as if they were secondary sales), this is our record (previously agreed by yourself) of the exchange which led us to this conclusion, which we still believe to be a reasonable one:
Q17. Mike Weatherley – a lot of artists will put tickets on the secondary market to increase the revenue from that concert. I see nothing wrong with that 10 because they are getting what the market will bear and so on. There is an issue about transparency because the artist may not want to be seen charging £150 for it and someone else charges £30 and they blame the secondary market for that. Do you take direct allocations from event holders, and could this be more transparent?
Christoph Homann – That is a conversation that you need to have with the artist. We would always encourage the artist to be as open as possible.
If you wish to provide a specific statement saying that Get Me In! does not take allocations of tickets directly from event holders or others who have access to tickets which have never been sold on the primary market, then we will of course add in a note to the evidence and report accordingly.
We look forward to your response.
Sharon Hodgson MP and Mike Weatherley MP