Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.13 20 Apr 2021


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A ticket reselling website has claimed a new law to ban ticket touting could actually hurt consumer protection.

Ticket touts could face a fine of up to €100,000 or up to two years imprisonment under new legislation going to Cabinet.

The bill will ban the resale of tickets to live events, matches and concerts in designated events and venues at a price above face value.

Frankie Mulqueen is head of government affairs with reselling website, Viagogo.

He told Lunchtime Live: "For us it represents a threat to our business model, there's no doubt about it.

"What happens if you remove someone like us, and remove our ability to make a profit, to pay our staff, to invest in technology, to expand, to increase choice for consumer.

"We return to the old days of the wild, wild west where you've people standing outside venues, where you've unregulated markets where - in the age of PDF ticketing - you can print 10, 20 copies, sell them all off in one go and there's no recourse.

"There's no step for you to be able to recoup your money and you're the one standing outside the venue with a false ticket and no protection.

"What this bill do is remove consumer protection."

Mr Mulqueen added that this law will just move people to the black market.

"Roughly about half our tickets on our platform for Ireland are sold below face value, and that would mean that half are around or above.

"But we don't set the prices, we believe people are adults and [this is] another intervention of nanny-state politics.

"All that will do is drive people off platforms where there is protections and on to the black market."

refunds Image by lori61 from Pixabay

'People are hard-pressed enough'

Former Fine Gael TD Noel Rock first proposed this bill back in 2017. He said it is all about extra protection.

"It's consumer protection legislation at its heart, and it's about protecting hard-pressed sports and music fans.

"And I think anything that can be done there should be very welcome to bring about a level playing field for normal sports fan and normal music fans over the types of touts who try and corner the market and try and charge exorbitant multiples of face values to people.

"I think people are hard-pressed enough nowadays without having to put up with that.

"So I think this is good news and it is welcome news".

He added this will also hit online resellers.

"It'll mean that, particularly the online reselling platforms, will be no longer allowed to facilitate the reselling of tickets at above face value.

"When you think about this: often people think about touts as being the fella on the corner outside Croke Park, or outside Vicar Street or whatever.

"But actually the reality of it is that after extensive consultations, both here and in other jurisdictions like the UK, we see that more or less the biggest 10% of resellers make up between 80% and 100% of sales on these websites".

Asked if he thought this would push ticket touting underground, he said: "I'm not naïve, I don't think any law stops activity entirely, but what it will do I think is curb it significantly.

"What's happening right now is you have people who think this is entirely legal behaviour, because it is entirely legal behaviour."

'Dysfunctional free market'

Asked about issues of supply and demand, he said a parallel would be the mobile phone market.

"Anyone's entitled to resell that ticket at face value, and that's what we talk about when we talk about a fair market place.

"I think sometimes consumer protection legislation is needed when the free market is somewhat dysfunctional.

"An example, or a parallel, perhaps would be mobile phone roaming.

"We all remember and we've all had experiences of when we've gone aboard, turned our internet on for a second and then suddenly hit [with] a €50 bill.

"And we brought in legislation to protect against that even through - strictly speaking - that was interfering with the free market, because it was quite clear the consumer needed protection there.

"I think this is a reasonable parallel and I think consumers need protection here."

The Sale of Tickets (Cultural, Entertainment, Recreational and Sporting Events) Bill  has an exemption for amateur sports clubs and registered charities for fundraising purposes.

It has been agreed by Government, and will be introduced in the Dáil at the earliest opportunity.

New ticket touting law will 'remove consumer protection', Viagogo claims

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Screengrab from the homepage of Viagogo in January 2019. Picture by: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

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Entertainment Frankie Mulqueen Recreational And Sporting Events) Bill Resale Of Tickets Reselling Tickets Sale Of Tickets (Cultural Ticket Touting Ticket Touting Law Ticket Touts Viagogo

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