During a debate on a Statutory Instrument - Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Enforcement) (Amendment) Order 2019 - Sharon called for further funding for enforcement agencies with a particular focus on the secondary ticket market.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West):
I am going to speak about something slightly different, which is what I think should be in the statutory instrument. As Members probably know—if they do not, it is probably because I have not banged on about it enough—I chair the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse, in which capacity I wish to speak today. I feel strongly that with this SI the Government have missed a great opportunity to address some concerns that have been expressed to me over the years.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 refers explicitly to secondary ticketing. Despite that important legislation, fans continue to be ripped off by secondary ticket touts who sell tickets for huge profits to genuine fans. Some touts do this regardless of whether the ticket actually exists, and without any regard for existing legislation. This leaves people out of pocket, frustrated, disappointed and unable to attend an event that they have saved for and looked forward to. The 2015 Act exists to protect consumers, which is what we are discussing, but it is failing to do so because of insufficient enforcement. Without sufficient enforcement, it becomes a moot Act, if there can be such a thing. That is why I wish to make the case today for more funding for our enforcement agencies, as I believe that enforcement is a significant aspect of the 2015 Act that is missing from this SI. I hope the Government will consider rectifying that.
National trading standards
“delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement…Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised criminality and by providing a ‘safety net’ to limit unsafe consumer goods entering the UK”.
To perform this huge task, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy provides national trading standards and Trading Standards Scotland with just £14 million. With that small amount of funding, trading standards is expected to protect consumers from scams and cyber-crime and to protect UK borders and public safety. Does the Minister agree that £14 million per year for this huge responsibility, which requires investigation, prevention, safeguarding and enforcement, is really not enough to fulfil the task to any acceptable level, and that it must—I know it does—leave NTS officers continually frustrated and overworked? Has the Minister made any assessment of how much funding NTS needs to fulfil its role to the highest standard?
The 2015 Act makes it clear that sellers must provide seat, row and block numbers, as well as the unique ticket ID number, if the event organisers insist on it, yet there are still examples of secondary ticketing sites that do not supply this information. Touts are therefore still able to operate illegally and rip off genuine fans without any serious implications. The legislation exists—we are talking about it—but despite a long-running Competition and Markets Authority investigation, enforcement is still lacking. That means it is up to organisers, venues and promoters to monitor secondary ticket touts, cancel tickets when necessary, and respond to disappointed fans who are denied access with invalid tickets. Such expectations are unreasonable for organisers, venues and promoters. At a recent meeting of the all-party group, an event organiser said:
“We don’t want to be the enforcers, but if agencies aren’t there then we have to step in.”
Does the Minister agree that this is not an acceptable expectation for organisers, venues and promoters?
As the House knows, I have been working on this issue for a long time now, and I am convinced that ticket touts will continue to operate outside the law until there is a sustainably funded agency to ensure that the existing legislation—this legislation—is enforced. That is why the SI is deficient. Recently, we saw two English teams fly to Madrid for the champions league final. I have to admit that I am not a fan of either team—I do not know whether you are, Madam Deputy Speaker—but many fans flew over, too, paying out for their flights, transfers and accommodation, on top of as much as £5,000 per ticket, going up in some cases to £10,000 per ticket, only to be told, just hours before the game, that the tickets they had purchased from secondary ticket sites did not exist and were cancelled. I can only imagine the sheer disappointment, anger and frustration that those fans went through, even though the 2015 Act should have made it impossible for that to happen. Unfortunately, this is not a rare occurrence: it is something I hear about all too often from the excellent campaign groups Victim of Viagogo and the FanFair Alliance.
If the Government want to protect consumers—which is what we are here to do—they must invest in our enforcement agencies to ensure that the existing legislation is totally adhered to. I know that what I have talked about is slightly outwith the scope of the SI, and I am so grateful for the House’s indulgence and to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to talk about the funding of national trading standards, but I hope the Minister has heard what I have had to say, even though I have sneaked it in as I have done, and will look into the issue as soon as possible.
(From CMA website) "The CMA is reviewing the compliance of 4 secondary ticket platforms with their undertakings and other legal obligations."
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - May-Jun 2016 - number 86
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - May-Jun 2016 - number 86
Sharon Hodgson, Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse welcomes recommendation for an investigation by Police and National Trading Standards into compliance of the law by the secondary ticketing market.
Welcome to Sharon Hodgson's ticket touting campaign intro page. #putfansfirst
Visit Fan Fair Alliance Website >
Updates will be published below. Or, alternatively, for more information about the campaign click on these links:
1. Search Sharon Hodgson MP Ticket Touting putfansfirst campaign pages - http://www.sharonhodgson.org/tags/_putfans1st_campaign - Sharon Hodgson MP Ticket Touting Campaign
2. All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse website wordpress - https://appgticketabuse.wordpress.com/news-2 - APPG Ticketing Abuse News Page
3. Twitter hashtags
- Toutsout hashtag - https://twitter.com/hashtag/toutsout - #toutsout
Update - 17th July 2019
Regarding Google's announcement that all Viagogo ads will be suspended, Sharon said:
“As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, I welcome the news today that Google will suspend all paid for adverts from Viagogo.
“For years, I have heard from fans who were led to believe that Viagogo was a trusted and official resale website because it appeared at the top of a Google search. I’m pleased that this will no longer occur.
“A well respected brand, such as Google, should have done this a long time ago. But I am now pleased that this step has been taken, which will protect consumers and fans.”
Update - 4th July 2019
Regarding the CMA's announcement of further legal action against viagogo, Sharon said:
“Viagogo have had four years to comply with Consumer Rights’ legislation but have always failed to do so. In the process they have ripped off thousands of genuine fans who have been left disappointed, frustrated and out of pocket.
“It is therefore welcome news that the CMA are now taking Viagogo to court for contempt.
“I hope that this action will show Viagogo that their parasitical business model will be tolerated no longer.
“Once again, I urge consumers to do their research before they buy from the secondary ticket market and above all: do not buy from Viagogo.”
Update - 11th June 2019
During a debate on Consumer Protection legislation, Sharon raised the case for additional funding for enforcement agencies with a particular reference to the secondary ticket market.
You can read Sharon's speech here.
Update - 8th June 2019
Sharon responds to Viagogo's claims that they will comply with legislation 'as soon as possible'.
You can read Sharon's response here.
You can read Viagogo's claims here.
Update - 24th May 2019
MPs and sporting industry unite against ticket touts
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“The APPG has been predominantly focussed on the music industry, but as the summer sporting events approached we turned our focus to sports and found that much of the issues are the same as in music.
“The legislation to protect consumers exists, but what is seriously lacking is enforcement. Touts are getting the message that they can break the law without any repercussions. That is why the Government must ensure that enforcement agencies are sufficiently funded so that consumers can be protected.”
Update - 19th March 2019
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into Live Music
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“I welcome the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s report today into Live Music.
“I am pleased that ticket abuse has played a large role in this review, and that once again the Committee has been clear that the public must not buy or sell tickets through Viagogo.
“I hope that the Government will respond positively to the report, particularly to the recommendations about reviewing the effectiveness of current regulations, and act appropriately if they are found to be ineffective.
“Ticket abuse is a widescale problem, and requires action from the ticketing industry, promoters, artists, search engines, consumers and Government.
“I have been committed to tackling this problem for almost a decade, and will not stop until fans are put first.”
You can read Sharon's tweet here.
Update - 5th March, 2019
Update from the CMA on Viagogo compliance court order
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“I am pleased that the CMA have today announced that they are preparing to take Viagogo to court to find them in contempt.
“This has been a long time coming, so I feel that it is only right that Viagogo are held to account for their parasitical actions, that have ripped off fans for far too many years.
“As the Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, I will of course be watching this very closely. As will thousands of fans who have fallen victim to Viagogo.
“I echo the warnings of the Minister, Chair of the Select Committee and Fan Fair Alliance that fans should avoid buying from Viagogo.”
Update - 28th January, 2019
Ticket Sales: Written question - 210021
Question Asked by Mrs Sharon Hodgson MP:
To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what the cost has been of the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into (a) Viagogo and (b) other secondary ticket sites.
Answered by Kelly Tolhurst:
The CMA is a non-Ministerial Department and is operationally independent.
The CMA has provided the following information: the CMA’s secondary tickets investigation cost £1.9 million to the end of 2018. However, a significant proportion of those costs relate to the CMA’s litigation against viagogo. Under the court order that the CMA secured against viagogo AG, viagogo AG will meet the CMA’s reasonable costs of those proceedings.
Update - 18th January, 2019
Information about the secondary ticketing websites deadline
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to find this morning that Viagogo has not made any drastic changes to its unscrupulous practices that rip off fans.
“This is after a long-running and costly enforcement investigation, and after the CMA secured a court order demanding a substantial overhaul of its business.
“For years Viagogo have acted in blatant disregard of consumer protection legislation. Surely they've now run out of road? It is time that the CMA take serious and urgent action, so that genuine fans don’t become victims of this company.”
Update - 10th September, 2018
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, FanFair Alliance and Society of Ticket Agents & Retailers (STAR) have published a joint letter sent to Google last week, demanding action to stop Viagogo‘s misleading search advertising.
Update - 31th August, 2018
CMA launches court action against viagogo
Update - 7th June, 2018
Adjournment debate by Mr Richard Bacon (south Norfolk) on Secondary Ticketing
To read the debate, click here.
Update - 2nd May, 2018
Westminster Hall debate by Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) on Ticket Touting: Musical Events
To read the debate, click here.
Update - 15th February, 2018
New rules introduced to protect consumers against ticket touting.
Update - 30th Jan 2018
Tickets: Touting: Parliamentary Written question - 124036
Question Asked by Mrs Sharon Hodgson MP (Washington and Sunderland West)
Asked on: 22 January 2018
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Tickets: Touting - 124036
"To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, when s105 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is planned to come into force?"
Answered by: Margot James MP
Answered on: 30 January 2018
"We are expecting to bring foward secondary legislation needed to enact this provision later this year."
Grouped Questions: 124038
Update - 28th November, 2017
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, commenting on the CMA’s enforcement announcement regarding resale platforms:
“It is welcome news that the CMA are now considering enforcement action against the resale platforms, who we know have repeatedly flouted the law of the land, especially after the many years of MPs and campaigners saying just that.
“What is incredibly interesting from this announcement is the fact that the CMA have widened the scope of their investigations from their original terms after they have seen just how broken this market is and the further action needed to fix it.
“This is positive news from an agency who is ultimately instructed to protect consumers from companies disregarding their rights and will be an important step in the right direction to finally put fans first in this market, once and for all.”
You can read more about this on the gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cma-to-take-enforcement-action-on-secondary-ticketing-sites
Update - 21st March, 2017
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse and a campaigner against ticket touts for over 8 years, said:
"After my 8 years of campaigning on this issue, it was excellent to see Parliament investigate the secondary ticketing market further - especially after their short inquiry session at the end of last year.
"Whilst viagogo failed to turn up and decided to hold Parliament and the wider British public in contempt, the session was productive and allowed for another chance to shine a light on this market and the abuses that go on within it.
"This ranged from what more can be done to enforce legislation, what testing of current consumer legislation should be taken in court, all the way to the principle of my Private Members Bill in 2011 to cap resale of tickets to face value plus 10% being revisited; to name just a few of the many ideas raised.
"This is an important step in the right direction to clean up this parasitical market so that fans are put first and it will be crucial in our next steps to see what comes from this inquiry."
Update - 20th March 2017
Sharon Hodgson MP backs Fan Fair Alliance's guide to equip fans with the tools to navigate the secondary market:
"It is fantastic that FanFair Alliance have published their guide, backed by numerous artists and promoters including Mumford & Sons, You Me At Six and Amy Macdonald, to ensure that all fans are put first and equipped with the tools to navigate this parasitical and broken market. This guide will be an ideal companion for all fans to use and complements the work going on within the live entertainment industry and in Parliament to clean up this murky market.”
To see others who have backed the guide, including Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran & You Me At Six!, follow this link here.
To read the guide, follow this link here.
Update - 14th March 2017
Sharon Hodgson MP writes for the Huffington Post on Victims of Viagogo. You can read Sharon's Huffington Post blog on the Victims of Viagogo by following this link here.
Update - 13th March 2017
Sharon Hodgson MP reacts to the Government's announcement that they will ban the misuse of bots & implementing all of the recommendations of the Waterson Review into the secondary ticketing market:
“It is excellent news that the Government have now accepted the Ban the Bots amendment and will finally accept all of the recommendations of the Waterson Review, which to be frank, has been a long time coming.
“This is all down to the concerted campaigning of a whole host of people and organisations who have pushed the Government to do more to put fans first in this broken and parasitical market, and as someone who has been campaigning on this for a very long time, I am delighted that we have seen this day come.
“These measures will ensure that fans are protected and have assurances that they will not be ripped off any longer, but there still remains work to do to make sure that these measures are enforced properly so touts do not circumvent them as this is going to very soon be the law of the land.”
Update - 19th December 2016
Sharon Hodgson MP, Labour Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse, welcomes the Consumer Markets Authority's announcement of enforcement investigation into online secondary ticketing, and said:
“It is welcome that there will now finally be enforcement of the consumer rights legislation on the statute book and the undertakings agreed between the Big 4 and the CMA.
“The non-compliance evidence found by the CMA backs up the often daily accounts, both online and in the press, that fans are being ripped off or not getting all the information they need when buying off secondary website. This is one part of a multi-faceted problem in this broken market.
“We know that non-compliance is rife within the market, and now that the Consumer Rights Act has been on the statute book for over a year, it is paramount that enforcement action is taken seriously and swiftly. Alongside this, we need to see the Government taking action on the issue of bulk purchasing of tickets for the sole intention of resale, otherwise this market will remain broken and fans will be continually ripped off.”
Update - 28th November 2016
Update - 18th August 2016
Update - 15 July 2016
Update - 14 June, 2016
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announce review to assess whether the four secondary ticket platforms who provided undertakings last year to CMA (Get Me In!, Seatwave, Stubhub and Viagogo) are providing adequate information to consumers, in accordance with their undertakings and their legal obligations.
If you have had dealings with the four main secondary ticket platforms (Get Me In!, Seatwave, Stubhub and Viagogo), CMA are asking anyone with relevant information about their practices to submit evidence to the review.
The review is open for responses until 5pm on 12 July 2016.
more details here: CMA Secondary ticket platforms review
Update - 02 June, 2016
Sharon speaks at a panel debate hosted by Newcastle University Culture Lab. Prof Waterson was also in attendance at the debate.
Following the publication of the Waterson Review, it is welcome to see recommendations in the report for an investigation by National Trading Standards and the police into the secondary market and see fans put first within the market, and not
The Business Secretary and Culture Secretary need to act to ensure these recommendations are implemented, and Sharon will push them to do so, as part of the cross-party campaign.
Update - 26 May, 2016
Sharon Hodgson, as Co-Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse welcomes recommendation for an investigation by Police and National Trading Standards into compliance of the law by the secondary ticketing market.
Update - 22 May, 2016 - Observer article
Update - 21 May 2016 - Guardian article
Update - 15 May, 2016 - Observer article
Ticket prices - The Observer - How the ticket touts get away with bleeding fans dry
UK Government petition goes live - 6th May, 2016
The petition is open until the 29th October 2016.
When the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the Government must respond with a statement published on the petition’s website, but when it reaches 100,000 signatures, then the Petitions Committee must consider this petition to be debated by Members of Parliament..
Sign the petition here > Enforce the Consumer Rights Act to protect music, arts and sport fans from touts
Wording of petition created by Adam Tudhope:
"Fans are being ripped-off by ticket resales. The Consumer Rights Act has not changed this. We demand that Parliament enact last year’s ticket resale amendment, which provides tougher sanctions for resale websites, and also require ticket resellers to reveal their identities."
"On a commercial scale, touting deprives the Treasury of VAT, and performance copyright holders of royalties that should be paid on the mark-ups. It also denies artistes the ability to ensure their events are priced so anyone can attend."
Amendment text, beginning page 3: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2014-2015/0134/15134.1-7.html
BBC One Watchdog programme - last updated 04.06.2014
Sharon Hodgson MP Ticket Touting Campaign tag - http://www.sharonhodgson.org/tags/_putfans1st_campaign - Sharon Hodgson MP Ticket Touting Campaign
To view the original #putfans1st campaign page click here: http://www.sharonhodgson.org/_putfans1st_campaign
(NB - For latest news about this campaign visit the putfansfirst intro page)
Sharon has been leading a campaign in Parliament for regulation of the secondary ticketing market to protect fans from the worst practices of ticket touts.
In 2010, Sharon tabled a Private Member’s Bill - the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2010/12 - calling for mark-ups on tickets (which were being re-sold against the expressed wishes of the event organiser) of no more than 10%; this Bill was filibustered by (some then) Tory backbenchers (including David Nuttall, Philip Davies and Sajid Javid - former Secretary of State for Culture) when it was debated in the House of Commons, so subsequently fell at the end of the Parliamentary session. Sharon's speech introducing the Bill can be read on Hansard here.
Since Sharon's Bill, the problems of the secondary ticketing market have been highlighted by a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, The Great Ticket Scandal, in early 2012 (videos below*), and a report from the Metropolitan Police, Ticket Crime: Problem Profile, which:
- Found that: “due to the surreptitious way that large numbers of ‘primary’ tickets are diverted straight onto secondary ticket websites, members of the public have little choice but to try to source tickets on the secondary ticket market.”
- Concluded that: “the lack of legislation outlawing the unauthorised resale of tickets and the absence of regulation of the primary and secondary ticket market encourages unscrupulous practices, a lack of transparency and fraud.”
- Recommended that: “consideration must be given to introducing legislation to govern the unauthorised sale of event tickets. The lack of legislation in this area enables fraud and places the public at risk of economic crime” and “the primary and secondary ticket market require regulation to ensure transparency, allowing consumers to understand who they are buying from and affording them better protection from ticket crime.
Sharon is now Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, which recently published a report making a number of recommendations to improve the market for fans and reduce the incidence of fraud and exploitation. The APPG have discussed their report with Ministers, and will continue to press the Government to incorporate some of these recommended changes within the Consumer Rights Bill, which is currently before Parliament.
Get involved appgticketabuse
Update 12.01.2015: Read Sharon's speech in the Consumer Rights Debate here. Unfortunately the Government voted against the Lords' Amendments which would have brought transparency into the secondary ticketing platforms market.
Sharon has also lobbied the relevant Shadow Ministers within the Labour Party to secure an assurance that if the present Government fail to act to protect fans, a future Labour Government will do so; the Labour frontbench have already tabled amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill along the lines of those called for by Sharon and the APPG.
You can view the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary in 4 parts here:
*Update May 2016 - We can't show you these here now as "The YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement."
Contact Channel 4 Dispatches if you would like to see this programme.
For more info on the new #putfansfirst campaign intro page - visit this page: http://www.sharonhodgson.org/ticket_touts_campaign