Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Secondary ticket providers advertise tickets sold by individuals or companies who have purchased tickets and wish to sell them on. These give people the chance to buy tickets at the last minute, or re-sell tickets they can no longer use. Secondary ticket providers must make the full price that consumers will need to pay clear, including non-optional fees (rule 3.18), and delivery costs (3.20).
For general advice non-optional fees, see ‘Compulsory costs and charges: general’.
Ticket prices must be stated inclusive of any booking fee, unless the booking fee cannot be calculated in advance (rules 3.18 and 3.19). If they cannot be calculated in advance, for example because they depend on the customer’s circumstances, the ad must make it clear that they are excluded, and how they are calculated.
An ad for the secondary ticket provider Seatwave was considered misleading because the quoted ticket price did not include the booking fee. Whilst the booking fee depended on the number of tickets purchased, the ASA considered that it was possible to calculate the booking fee per ticket, in advance of displaying the ticket prices, and therefore the web page should have presented the total ticket price including this fee. Even if the price had not been calculable in advance, the ad would have breached the Code because it did not state how the booking fee was calculated (Seatwave Limited, 07 March 2018).
All quoted prices must include VAT, unless the majority of those to whom the ad is addressed do not pay or can recover VAT (Rule 3.18). This means that all quoted prices for tickets must include VAT.
Complaints about ads for tickets sold by viagogo were upheld because the initial quoted ticket price did not include VAT. Whilst viagogo argued that the rate of VAT could not be calculated in advance because it depended on the customer’s county of residence, the ASA considered that, given the claims appeared on the UK version of the website, most buyers would be from the UK and would therefore pay the UK rate of VAT and as such the UK rate of VAT should have been included in the ticket price. Furthermore, viagogo would have known the address of registered viagogo customers before displaying the prices, if they had signed in at the beginning of the customer journey (Viagogo AG, 07 March 2018).
See also ‘Compulsory costs and charges: VAT’.
Code rule 3.20 states that ads which quote prices must also state all applicable delivery fees, or, if these cannot be calculated in advance, state that these charges are payable. These delivery fees should be clearly stated in the initial marketing material. An ad for event tickets on the Get Me In website stated "Prices may vary from face value and exclude order & delivery fees [hyperlink] (applicable per transaction)”. The ASA considered that the UK delivery fee could have been calculated in advance, and therefore the ad should have stated the applicable UK delivery charge alongside the ticket price. Because it did not, the ASA found the ad misleading (GETMEIN! Ltd, 07 March 2018).
See also ‘Compulsory costs and charges: delivery charges’.
The total ticket price, including all non-optional fees must be stated at the beginning of the customer journey. It is not sufficient to add these fees on to the price later in the customer journey, and customers should know the total price before they make a transactional decision to proceed.
An ad for the ticket provider Stubhub was upheld because the additional service and delivery fees were added to the total ticket price on the third page of the customer journey. Whilst there was a “filter button” on the first page which would display the total ticket price including these fees, the ASA considered that the ticket price inclusive of the service fee and the cost of delivery should have been made clear as soon as ticket prices were quoted, prior to selecting the “filter” button (StubHub (UK) Ltd, 07 March 2018).
Secondary ticket providers should ensure that ads do not misleadingly imply that a website is an official primary ticket outlet.
An ad which stated “Ed Sheeran Tickets 2017 - Buy Now, viagogo Official Site - viagogo.co.uk” was upheld by the ASA because the ad did not provide any information to indicate that viagogo.co.uk was not a primary ticket outlet, or that the website was a marketplace where second-hand tickets were bought and sold. The ASA understood that the ad appeared on Google alongside primary ticket outlets and other second-hand ticket outlets after consumers searched for Ed Sheeran tickets and that in that context consumers were likely to understand the claim “official site” to mean that viagogo.co.uk was an official primary ticket outlet. As the ASA considered consumers would have more confidence buying from an “official site” than they would from a secondary ticket outlet, this was considered misleading (Viagogo AG, 07 March 2018).
Similarly, ticket providers must not suggest that consumers will always receive genuine tickets, if it cannot guarantee that those tickets will be genuine. Complaints about the claim “Guaranteed genuine tickets” were upheld because the advertiser was not able to guarantee that buyers would always be able to successfully gain entry to their chosen event (StubHub (UK) Ltd, 25 March 2020).