Stop Ticket Scalping in Australia

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Response from the Department of Commerce

This post refers to legislation outlined in the Law Part One post.

Earlier this year, Stop Ticket Scalping Australia wrote the following to the Western Australian Department of Commerce.

Hi there

We have read the “Ticket Scalping Report 2010” and on page 30, it states that the ACL legislation means people onselling tickets to shows must legally have the “right” to sell the ticket.

However, the Ticketek website and it seems some of their tickets declare that a condition of using their tickets is “not to onsell them at a higher price than the selling price of the ticket by Ticketek.”

We are writing to you specifically about “scalpers” onselling tickets to the Australian David Attenborough shows on eBay through the “Buy It Now” mechanism.  Using Buy-it Now, they should only list their tickets at the prices that they bought them for.

It is not right that people buy tickets for unauthorised opportunitsitc onselling, and do not have any intention of actually attending a show; or if they did want to attend but can’t, that they sell their tickets for above the purchase price.  While the Report talks about the positive effects of onselling, and people claim that tickets are just another commodity which can be sold to the highest bidder in a commerical world, we hold the view that Tickets are different to other categories of items sold on eBay and online.   Tickets, to us, are more of a service than a commodity, and even if they ARE a commodity, then the product they yield is rare or uncommon (limited show occurrences in space and time) and it is grossly not Australian that to purchase a ticket from a “scalper”, one has to be rich.

Please advise what the “right” to sell the ticket means legally, and if the ACL provisions prevent people from selling tickets to shows on eBay using the “Buy-it Now” mechanism at prices above their purchase price.  Alternatively, please refer this enquiry to the appropriate legal organisation(s) to answer my question, as someone must know the answer.  Please advise whom can investigate the eBay seller below and other eBay sellers “scalping” David Attenborough tickets on eBay.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1-4-FRONT-PREMIUM-CENTRE-SIR-DAVID-ATTENBOROUGH-PERTH-SEATS-CONCERT-TICKETS-/280924861013?pt=AU_Tickets&hash=item41686d3255

http://www.ebay.com.au/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p0.m570.l1313&_nkw=attenborough+tickets&_sacat=See-All-Categories

We have emailed Ticketek our concern, and received the email reply.   Even though, as they say, eBay is an open auction site, the sellers still have to follow all the applicable “laws”, and we need to know what the intersection of the relevant laws are.  Surely the “scalpers”, having read the terms & conditions of Ticketek ticket sales, are subject to the laws of the Australian Consumer Law, and surely the intent of that legislation and the reference to the “right to sell the ticket” encompasses only the right to onsell / sell at the purchase price.  Additionally, the first clause on page 30, that ticket sellers are “prohibited from engaging in false, misleading or deceptive conduct” surely means “scalpers” cannot engage in false and deceptive conduct, selling tickets outside of the Terms & Conditions of  Ticketek.  Perhaps Ticketek is not aware of the ACL legislation, and should be advised of such, and asked to liaise with eBay over the “scalpers” of the DA tickets, seeing as Ticketek state that they monitor online auctions.

Note to readers:   Ticketek’s response can be seen at  THIS  POST

Please note, importantly, that we have already contacted eBay on 8 July 2012 about the specific seller above, and they replied the person has already been reported (by other concerned people) and that they will investigate.  However, to date, we see that seller is still trying to sell tickets way above the purchase price of premium tickets.   Of course we know their tickets may not sell, but we are clearly speaking about one specific distinct issue here, which is that it is not ethically or morally right or economically fair to the “consumer”, that ticket scalping be allowed.

The Ticketek terms and ticket prices for the DA shows can be found at the pages below, for your quick references.

http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/show.aspx?sh=DAVIDATT12#.UAoSf6Czma8

http://premier.ticketek.com.au/Content/buyers/termsofsale.aspx

We hope that you take this enquiry seriously, as we are going to do all that is within our power to get to a satisfactory resolution.   We look forward to a timely and sensible response from you.

Regards

Stop Ticket Scalping received the following reply, which did not answer their question.

Thankyou for your email regarding the practice of on selling tickets. In your email you raised concerns with regards to a persons right to on sell a ticket.

You refer to a report, Consumers and the ticket market, Ticket on selling in the Australian market, Final Report, November 2010 prepared by Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council.

In the report summary it states the following findings:

Chapter 2

The level of unauthorised on selling in Australia is low, due to:

– few sold out events in Australia each year, where sell out events and sell out ticket

category or seating type are a precondition for a strong secondary market;

– the number of on sold tickets for popular events being low compared to the total

number of tickets sold; and

– ticket on selling being less common in Australia than in some other markets, such as

the United States and the United Kingdom.

• Technology and in particular the internet is allowing consumers to engage in the

practice of ticket on selling.

• Widespread use of the online environment has heightened the visibility of ticket

on selling.

• Technology has enabled many tickets to be purchased concurrently, with an average of

one to three tickets being bought at any one time by each consumer. This contributes to

events being sold out quickly.

• The broad issue of ticket on selling does not cause significant consumer detriment,

however, there are concerns about specific issues related to on selling. These include

issues such as the transferability of tickets, transparency in ticket allocation and fair

access to tickets.

However, Chapter 4 states:

Chapter 4

• The existing consumer protection regulatory framework in Australia, which will be

enhanced by the Australian Consumer Law, is adequate to protect consumers from

unfair trading practices in the ticket market.

– There are issues associated with the enforcement of industry-specific regulation due

to the disorganised nature of the secondary market.

Organisers of sporting and entertainment events such as the David Attenborough show, authorise certain agencies to sell tickets to their events. When unauthorised people on sell tickets and when scalpers on sell for an inflated price it can greatly disadvantage consumers. The growth of internet sites such as EBay have made ticket on selling easier for sellers and has become popular for people who miss out on purchasing tickets from an official outlet. While ticket on selling is not illegal in Australia, there are risks associated with doing so. Buying a ticket through an unauthorised seller carries a significant amount of risk.

There are risks that a consumer:

* will pay significantly more than what an authorised seller is charging

* wont receive a refund if an event is cancelled as the organises may only refund the original buyer and will often pay funds     directly onto the credit card or bank account used to make the purchase

* may be scammed if the tickets are not delivered or the tickets are counterfeit

As Chapter 4 mentions above, there are protections under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).

The ACL requires that a seller must:

* provide tickets that are fit for purpose and match their description

* advertise one price which includes all fees and postage charges

* provide a receipt and

* not misled in any way

The Public Trading Local Law 2005 also prevents the scalping and on selling of tickets in public areas in the City of Perth.

Consumers can reduce the risk associated with buying tickets by safe guarding themselves by following these tips:

* find out from the event organiser who the authorised sellers are

* check WA ScamNet (http://www.scamnet.wa.gov.au)

* check the terms and conditions of the ticket before purchasing

* never give out too many personal details online

* only use secure payment methods and consider using a credit card which usually has added protection of its own

* always ask for a recept and save all transactions

Event organises can also use a number of different measures to prevent or reduce scalping of their tickets including:

* placing limits on the number of tickets one person can purchase

* using extra security to verify that it is a person, not a computer, buying the tickets

* requiring names be printed on tickets and check ID at events

* requiring the credit card that was used in the purchase be presented at events

* staggering the release of tickets to encourage people to wait and buy from authorised sellers

The above mentioned report found that on selling of tickets in Australia is low because events rarely sell out however  on selling of tickets does occur. As advised this practice is not illegal however may breach terms and conditions of an authorised selling agent like Ticketek. As you may appreciate it is the responsibility of Ticketek to enforce their terms and conditions.

Thankyou for your query.

Regards,

Coordinator,  Retail Building & Services Branch, Consumer Protection, Department of Commerce, Western Australia

A Level 5/ 221 St Georges Tce, PERTH  P Locked Bag 14 Cloisters Square PO, PERTH 6850

*************************************

So, at this present point of time, STSA is still trying to determine what the “right” to sell the ticket means legally, and if the ACL provisions prevent people from selling tickets to shows on eBay using the “Buy-it Now” mechanism at prices above their purchase price.  It is a great pity that the Dept of Commerce just regurgitated the Report (what we already knew) and DID NOT ANSWER THE QUESTION – what the “RIGHT TO SELL A TICKET” legally means, AND if eBay have to require sellers to use BIN prices at the face value of the Ticket.

 

If selling tickets at Buy-it Now inflated prices on online auctions or via other online means does breach the law, then doesn’t that mean that Ticketek (and other ticketing providers) should seriously investigate allegations of reported breaches (e.g. contact eBay sellers even if they don’t list or identify the ticket numbers on their eBay listings) to enforce the law?

The answer is YES

but the reality is that there is next to no will of the Primary Ticket Sellers because of the  COST INVOLVED

MONEY OBVIOUSLY TALKS

TOO BAD ABOUT THOSE WHO MISS OUT, THEY ARE JUST A FEW ……. this is what MOST people think

One day it may just happen to THOSE WHO DON’T CARE – and then they may just change their “tune”

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One comment on “Response from the Department of Commerce

  1. Terry Hannan
    13/01/2014

    Whoever gave this response should certainly get a card in his mail next year from Eric Baker of Viagogo in recognition for his ”spin doctoring” and side stepping on what is an incredibly important issue.

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