Yesterday at Prime Minister’s Questions, Nigel asked the Prime Minister about ticket touting, including of charity-gig tickets, by the major resale firm Viagogo. He said:
Does the Prime Minister agree that, when tickets to a teenage cancer charity gig by Ed Sheeran are being resold on the viagogo ticket website for more than £1,000, with none of that money going to the charity, and tickets to the hit musical “Hamilton” are being touted for upwards of £5,000 when viagogo knows only too well that resold tickets are invalid for entry, it is unfair and not indicative of a market that works for everyone? What will the Government do to ensure that genuine fans are not fleeced by ticket touts and rogues?
The Prime Minister replied:
I thank my hon. Friend for raising that important issue, which I know he has been working on for some time. He is absolutely right to identify circumstances where websites are acting in that way and causing those problems for people who genuinely believe that they are able to buy tickets for what they wish to attend. I understand that he recently met my right hon. Friend the Minister for Digital and Culture to discuss the issue. As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduced new rules on ticketing and a review of online ticket sales. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will shortly respond to the independent report by Professor Michael Waterson on this issue, but as a Government we are looking at the general issue of where markets are not working in the interest of consumers.
Nigel welcomed the Prime Minister’s engagement on this issue. He said: “I’m a huge supporter of free markets, and I think touting a perfect example of a time where Government can help make sure those markets work for everone. Free markets mean the ability to buy and sell legitimate goods without undue burden – such as when a fan who can’t make a gig wants to pass on a ticket or recoup their costs. Dodgy practices like reselling invalid tickets, or tickets that haven’t yet even gone on sale from primary sellers, are not part of a free market – they are examples of crookedness.”
Earlier this week, Nigel met with Claire Turnham, the founder of the “Victims of Viagogo” Facebook group. Claire tried to purchase tickets for her family to an Ed Sheeran concert, believing they would cost £263, and later found without warning that her card had been charged an eye-watering £1421, in what Viagogo later termed a “glitch.” Claire managed to get her money refunded, and set up a group for others who may have had the same issue – only to find herself flooded with hundreds of requests for help, including from numerous others who had experienced the same “glitch” well after Viagogo had already acknowledged it.
Nigel further said: “It was a pleasure to meet Claire and learn about her campaign – I really admire how tenacious she has been and how she has volunteered her time to help others. She shared with me many personal stories from fans trying to purchase tickets, and the financial distress they experienced was appalling and unacceptable – not to mention how sad it is that at the end of all that stress, they still find themselves without tickets. Claire has been a great advocate for consumers like herself, and I hope we can look at how we can help strengthen protections for fans.”
You can watch Nigel’s question to the Prime Minister here.