Online concert ticket sales: Ticketone and four players on the secondary market fined 1,7 million euros



The Italian Competition Authority concluded five investigations into the online sale of tickets for the main concerts held in Italy in recent years (the so called hot events, including concerts by One Direction, Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruce Springsteen, Renato Zero, Adele, David Gilmour, Coldplay, U2 and Ed Sheeran). The investigations were launched last October, and led to the imposition of fines totaling 1,7 million euros.

The first investigation concerned Ticketone SpA, the exclusive online distributor for main events since 2002, offering tickets on the primary market at prices set by promoters on behalf of performers.

Several consumers complained that concert tickets would quickly sell out on the primary market, and become immediately available on the secondary market at inflated prices. The investigation aimed to establish whether the trader exercised the proper duty of care, in light of its exclusive rights for online sales and the contractual obligations attached thereto.

Whereas demand for hot events is bound to exceed supply – and a few tickets were sold directly from a promoter to a secondary market player – the investigation revealed that ticket touting for the most important entertainment events in Italy stemmed also from the procedures Ticketone adopted for its online sales.

Indeed, while it was contractually bound to adopt anti-touting measures, Ticketone did not take appropriate steps to prevent bulk buying through specialist software, nor has it tried to limit multiple purchases or set up a system of ex post controls to cancel them.

According to the Authority, such omissions run contrary to the requirements of fairness and good faith. Therefore, the commercial practice of Ticketone was found to infringe article 20(2) of the Consumer Code, and the company was fined one million euros.

Four more investigations concerned players on the online secondary market (Seatwave, Viagogo Ticketbis, e Mywayticket). These platforms provided incomplete or incorrect information to consumers, concerning several essential elements which potential buyers need to make their transactional decisions.

In particular, the traders would not provide adequate information concerning the ticket features, including their face value, the row and the seat, as well as consumer rights in case of the event’s cancellation. Moreover, the websites failed to clarify that these traders were mere intermediaries on the secondary market.

Therefore, the Authority found that the traders at stake infringed articles 20, 21 and 22 on Consumer Code on unfair commercial practices, and imposed fines totaling 700,000 euros.

Rome, 13 April 2017