NSW government cracks down on ticket scalping websites

eBay, viagogo could face fines of $5500 per offence

The New South Wales government has announced legislation which could see online marketplaces hit with fines of $5500 if they refuse to remove scalped tickets which are sold for inflated prices.

NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts is responsible for the proposal which would make it illegal to resell tickets to sporting and entertainment events for more than 10 per cent. Auction sites such as eBay and viagogo will need to comply or be fined $5500 per offence.

The new laws require anyone reselling tickets to a sporting or entertainment event held in NSW to include:

  • Details of the ticket number, row and seat number
  • Terms and conditions of the ticket sale or details of where to find them
  • Notice of any condition which allows the ticket to be cancelled if it is resold in breach of its terms and conditions
  • A clear image of the ticket showing the number, seat and row number but obscuring any barcode.

Roberts said that the law is not focussed on removing the option for those unable to attend events to sell tickets.

“We would welcome industry initiatives to develop a secondary market controlled by ticket operators,” he said in a statement.

“The government is keen to ensure that secondary outlet sellers and potential buyers are accurately advised of the terms and conditions at the sale of those tickets, including provision for possible cancellation.”

In response, viagogo Asia Pacific head Alex Levenson said the ticketing legislation proposed by Roberts won’t work and would increase fraud by forcing people to buy tickets on the black market.

“The terms and conditions of a ticket, which are at the centre of the government’s proposals, do not protect the fans,” he said in a statement.

According to Levenson, the terms and conditions will only protect the promoter and primary ticket seller.

“It’s the primary seller’s right to substitute or cancel artists if they choose, and their right to withhold a refund or exchange. So while you might buy tickets for a Bruce Springsteen concert, you could end up watching The Muppets or nothing at all.

“Ticket resale was legal yesterday, is legal today and we are confident that it will still be legal tomorrow. We will continue to offer fans a service that provides safe, secure and guaranteed access to tickets,” he said.

eBay Australia and New Zealand spokesperson Megan English said the real issue is the distribution of tickets, fees added to the final price of tickets and consumer refunds.

“This weekend’s National Rugby League (NRL) grand final is a great example of how proposed legislation will limit the rights of consumers,” she said in a statement.

“For example, the distribution and limited buy back schemes offered by the NRL are preventing real fans from cheering on their team. In response, eBay is calling for an inquiry and full disclosure into ticket issuing so rounded decisions can be made that favour consumers.”

English said that eBay is advocating on behalf of consumers to ensure people have a right to lawfully sell their property without fear of cancellations.

She also responded to a comment by Roberts that there is an issue with bots buying mass volumes of tickets on websites.

“As a technology company eBay is able reassure the minister that this is a technology fix and does not require legislation, just a motivated ticket issuer that actually wants to stem the problem.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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Tags ebayNSW GovernmentAnthony RobertsNSW Fair Tradingviagogoticket sales

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