Viagogo, the secondary ticketing site, failed to send a spokesperson to a Commons select committee hearing yesterday (May 29), after being asked by MPs to discuss the ongoing issue of ticket-sales abuse.
Earlier this year, the Government unveiled a new legislation which banned touts from using bots to bulk-buy tickets online. It is now a criminal offence to use automated technology to buy large amounts of tickets with the intention of selling at inflated prices.
The move followed an investigation last year in which officials raided four premises – including the Viagogo and StubHub offices – to look into alleged breaches of consumer law within secondary ticketing services.
Now, with a Commons select committee aiming to investigate ticket abuse further, Viagogo failed to turn up to give evidence. As reported by The Guardian, the committee’s chair Damian Collins said that it’s “a considerable disappointment that Viagogo have decided not to send a representative, despite the fact that they have a substantial office [nearby]”.
Speaking to NME earlier this year, Minister For Digital MP Matt Hancock spoke of the ongoing review aiming to tackle the issue.
“The goal here is to make sure that fans can buy tickets at reasonable prices,” Mr Hancock said.
“The legislation we announced [in January] is one part of the broader plan. The legislation to ban the bots is one track to come into force in April; it’s got to go through Parliament between now and now but I’m fully confident that they will approve.”
He continued: “This is about tackling computers that buy more than 10 tickets at a time, but we know there’s much more to it than that. The enforcement from police of existing laws has been progressing too so that we can use the powers that we’ve got already. We’ve also got the Competition Authority looking at the market. Lots of people raised the concern that when the primary ticket seller owns the secondary ticket seller – giving them market power. It looks like they’re separate markets, when actually they’re not.”
Recently, Ed Sheeran took the bold step of cancelling fans’ tickets to his shows that were purchased from secondary sites. Fans with secondary tickets were then asked to pay £80 on the door – the original face value of the ticket. In total, over 10,000 tickets have been cancelled across the 18-date tour.
“It’s all being done properly I’m not trying to stitch fans up,” Sheeran told Newsbeat of the decision.
“People just need to start taking a stance and within two or three years companies like Viagogo are going to be kaput.”
He added: “I think it is just about being strong and not giving in.”
Elsewhere, Arctic Monkeys fans voiced their frustrations after tickets to the band’s charity Royal Albert Hall show appeared on tout sites for up to £700.