Football fans are being duped by ticket resellers, say FIFA just days before the football World Cup is set to begin in Russia.
“Secondary ticketing” is a big business. According to news reports, the business is estimated to be worth $8 billion annually globally compared to $30 billion of revenues generated through primary ticketing.
However, there is vagueness in laws regulating online scalping. Some customers are allowed to resell tickets at sky high prices by secondary ticketing companies like Viagogo taking use of the vagueness in the regulatory environment.
After FIFA – the governing body of the World Cup, received complaints against Viagogo from consumers and watchdogs related to the “opaque and deceptive business conduct”, it filed a criminal complaint against the firm.
Primary tickets were started to be sold to fans since September by FIFA through its website via an application process. FIFA has issued a warning that this process is the only legitimate one for getting tickets while those with secondary tickets have the risk of heir tickets being non-validated.
“FIFA’s ultimate objective in the fight against the secondary ticket market is to prioritize the safety and security of fans and enforce a fair pricing scheme,” FIFA stated in a press release following the complaint.
A preliminary injunction against the Swiss based Viagogo was issued by a Hamburg court in January this year and banned it from reselling World Cup tickets. The contention of the court was that the tickets that were advertised on Viagogo were overpriced, and that some weren’t even available at the time of sale.
This year, there are other measures too that FIFA is taking to prevent fraudulent ticket sales. Another measure is the mandatory holding of a Fan ID by ticket holders – which is a photo admit card for entering stadiums. According to FIFA, this is something that the Russian authorities had asked it do.
There is however an official resale procedure for tickets. Customers would have to use the FIFA’s official website to do so. Customers receive a face-value refund, minus a 10% handling fee.
FIFA’s pricing chart states that $210 is the official price of a ticket for France’s game against Peru on June 21. But that same ticket carried a maximum price of up to $1,394 on Viagogo which also includes a $284 booking fee and a $50 delivery fee.
“This charge is what allows us to provide you with a great service,” reads a note on the site. “It helps us verify your tickets are valid, ensure safe and secure delivery of your tickets in time for the event, and provide prompt customer service if you ever need it.”
“They’re not being clear on add-on fees,” said Matthew Wilson, a spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s ad regulator. “That’s not fair.”
In order to solve issues arising from online concert ticket scalping, the FanFair Alliance was created in 2016. Resale companies “were originally marketed as fan-to-fan platforms, because it was a challenge to resell a ticket,” explained Adam Webb, the campaign manager. However, professional ticket sellers are now all over the website.
Webb said Viagogo is certainly the outlier in its non-compliance, but the market still has underlying problems that need to be addressed.
(Adapted from Money.CNN.com)