The secondary ticketing website www.seatwave.com, seen on 26 July 2017. The web page to select tickets for an event listed the different tickets available and their prices. In one example, text stated "£99.50". Next to the price a pop-up message stated, “Booking and delivery fee not included and will vary based on location and the number of tickets bought". On the subsequent web page, text stated "2 tickets x £99.50 each*” followed by “Booking Fee (inc VAT) £35.98”. Text below stated “Important information *Ticket prices are set by the sellers and may be higher than face value. Face value printed on ticket excluding fees £61.40. Total For Your Tickets £234.98”. Further down the page a subheading stated “Your Delivery Details £9.99”. At the bottom of the page, text stated “Total Price £244.97”.
The ASA challenged whether the presentation of the pricing information concerning the additional ticket fees and charges was misleading.
Seatwave Ltd explained that, in relation to the booking fee, the fee was dependent on the number and price of the tickets selected. Based on that, they said the fee could not be calculated until the consumer had selected the quantity of tickets that they wished to purchase.
Seatwave said that their ticket prices were clearly qualified with an “information” icon which informed consumers of the existence of the booking fee, when they hovered over the icon. They said that a similar qualification also appeared under the seating plan which gave consumers additional notice of the existence of the booking fee.
Seatwave said that, in relation to the delivery fees, the calculation of the fee was dependent on the ticket type selected, the location of the buyer, the applicable delivery method and the tariff of the service provider offering the delivery method. They said that as a result of those factors, it was not possible to include the fee in the ticket price and/or display the information in advance. They said that, as with the booking fee, information about the existence of the delivery fee appeared with the “information” icon next to the ticket price and in the qualification under the seating plan.
The ASA noted the £99.50 ticket price did not include the booking and delivery fees. The CAP Code rules on misleading advertising and pricing required that, to avoid misleading consumers, quoted prices must include non-optional taxes and fees that applied to all or most buyers and should also state the applicable delivery fee. The only exception was when those fees could not be calculated in advice. In those circumstances, the ad must make clear that the fees were excluded from the advertised price and, in the case of the booking fee, they must also state how they were calculated. We considered that the relevant information needed to be made clear as soon as ticket prices were quoted before the consumer had made a transactional decision concerning whether or not to proceed further.
Seatwave argued that the booking fee (which included VAT) could not be calculated until the buyer had selected the exact number of tickets they intended to purchase. However, we noted that on the first page where prices were presented, the buyer could select the number that they wanted, and the “buy” button linked through to another page on which the booking fee was shown. That page also had the option to change the number of tickets, which in turn changed the booking fee. We therefore considered that it was possible for the booking fee to be calculated in advance of displaying the ticket prices and that the web page should have presented the total price of the ticket price inclusive of the booking fee.
Seatwave said that the process for determining the delivery fees was dependent on a number of factors, including the location of the buyer and seller. We understood that UK postal delivery, international postal delivery and e-tickets each had one standard price. We considered that because the claims appeared on the UK version of the website, and primarily offered tickets for UK events, most buyers would be from the UK. Furthermore, the other factors that affected the delivery price – the locations of the seller and the ticket type – were known to Seatwave prior to the buyer providing their personal details. We therefore considered that the UK delivery fee could be calculated in advance, and the ad should have stated the applicable UK delivery charge alongside the ticket price.
Notwithstanding the above, we considered that even if the fees could not have been calculated in advance, the ad would have breached the Code because it did not state how the booking fee was calculated.
Because the ad did not make clear the total ticket price including the booking fee, and did not make clear the applicable delivery fee, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.18 3.18 Quoted prices must include non-optional taxes, duties, fees and charges that apply to all or most buyers. However, VAT-exclusive prices may be given if all those to whom the price claim is clearly addressed pay no VAT or can recover VAT. Such VAT-exclusive prices must be accompanied by a prominent statement of the amount or rate of VAT payable. and 3.20 (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Seatwave Ltd to ensure they made clear the total ticket price including the booking fee (inclusive of VAT) and made clear the applicable UK delivery fee as soon as ticket prices were quoted.