New Ticket Code ‘Window Dressing’

The new code of conduct that the U.K.’s Office Of Fair Trading and the Society of Ticket Agent Retailers has launched to reduce fraudulent sales of concert and theatre tickets is no more than “window dressing,” according to Viagogo chief Eric Baker.

He says the much-trumpeted joint initiative the OFT and STAR launched July 22, which included the ticketing association’s secretary Jonathan Brown being interviewed on BBC TV’s “Breakfast News,” doesn’t really offer fans any protection and doesn’t cover half the things his own company does.

Although other ticket sellers and interested parties such as the Concert Promoters’ and National Arenas’ associations hadn’t issued any comment at press time, the code appears to do little more than let fans know they’ll have less chance of being ripped off if they buy from a company that has a “STAR” logo.

“STAR has been protecting consumers from sharp practices for over 10 years, but there is more work to be done, as complaints about online ticket scams and street touts continue to flood in,” Brown told the BBC.

Baker has countered by saying there are three simple principles that fans want: The right to be guaranteed that tickets will be as promised, authentic and delivered on time for the event; the right to a full refund – including fees – through a simple, painless process if an event is canceled; and the right to be able to resell tickets if they cannot attend the event.

He called on STAR to explicitly endorse all of these principles so there is no more “double-talk” and fans can feel truly secure.
There is no money-back guarantee with the code, but STAR members have pledged to provide clear information about rescheduled or canceled events and outline the procedure and circumstances to process a refund. Baker says he thinks that’s coming up short of the mark.

The OFT / STAR code says that consumers must be dealt with fairly and businesses need a robust complaints procedure and refunds policy in place.

It’s come as a result of the increasing number of complaints the OFT is having to field from fans who bought tickets from companies that have disappeared or gone bust with their money.

Consumer association Which? said anything that made ticket buyers’ rights clearer was welcome but stressed that the code did not protect people against fly-by-night operators.

“You are always going to get someone trying to make a fast buck,” Stephen McGlade from Which? legal services told the BBC.