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Viagogo and StubHub offices raided as part of ticket touting investigation

World News
November 1, 2017

Two of the Big Four secondary ticketing sites at the centre of an investigation into breaches of consumer law have had their offices raided, it has been revealed.

Viagogo and eBay-owned StubHub both received a visit to their London offices by officials from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Guardian newspaper reports. It is understood information was seized relating to the companies’ dealings with ticket touts.

The CMA launched an investigation to check whether the Big Four – the other two being LNE subsidiary Ticketmaster’s Get Me In and Seatwave platforms – were adhering to the Consumer Rights Act amendment of 2015 (see Audience issue 203), introduced last year.

Issues include identifying sellers, restrictions on tickets and seat location. It is also looking into whether touts are given preferential treatment over genuine fans.

An ‘information notice’ was sent out by the CMA to the four sites, requesting details of ticket sales turnover and relationships with major touts. Seatwave and Get Me In complied, but Viagogo and StubHub failed to do so by a deadline, leading to the CMA raids in August.

Among information believed to have been taken were details of StubHub’s Top Seller Programme, comprising tours who generate more than $250,000 in sales each year, which allegedly allows large sellers, to receive added benefits including discounts on fees.

A spokesman for the CMA tells Audience it could ‘neither confirm or deny’ the raids took place.

Meanwhile information leaked in the so-called Paradise Papers on companies and individuals using tax haven around the world, has highlighted a link between StubHub and Canadian super tout Julie Lavallee.

As well turning over millions of dollars each year, Lavallee’s company I Want Tickets was registered in the Isle of Man, via offshore legal service provider Appleby to avoid paying tax.

Lavallee is also a member of StubHub’s Top Seller Programme and was active on the site as recently as August. He has harvested and resold tickets for acts including Adele, Ed Sheeran and Drake.

“It is no secret that the model of so-called secondary ticketing promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave has resulted in UK audiences being systematically ripped-off on an industrial scale,” says a spokesman for anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance.

“The new revelations from the Paradise Papers highlight a jaw-dropping scale of complicity between large-scale sellers and one of the platforms.

“What we now need is root-and-branch reform. As well as regulatory action, we urge the [Government’s] Culture Media & Sport Select Committee to revisit the issue of ticket abuse and for the Government to enforce legislation in a meaningful way.”

StubHub declined to comment while the CMA investigation was ongoing.

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