Government taking aim at ticketing scalpers

Newstalk ZB, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Monday, 4 March 2019, 4:51p.m.
Kris Faafoi and Jacinda Ardern made the announcement this afternoon. (Photo / File)

The Government has announced they will be banning ticket scalping, and the Commerce Minister says they are looking especially closely at Viagogo. 

Minister Kris Faafoi and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today.

"Measures planned include a price cap on resale tickets, enforcing rules around information that needs to be disclosed to better inform consumers, and banning ticket-buying 'bots'," Ardern told media at her post-Cabinet press conference.

The Commerce Commission received more than 400 complaints since 2017 about Viagogo alone, making it the most complained about trader during that time.

Minister Kris Faafoi said he was also concerned about professional scalpers using ticket 'bots' to buy up large quantities of tickets online and then reselling them at hugely inflated prices.

He told Larry Williams that have a clear policy path to enforce this rule, and are locking overseas for guidance.

"In New South Wales, they've capped the profits on ticket scalping at 10 per cent. We've got a discussion document out to look at that issue.

"Also, information disclosure, making sure that people looking to buy tickets know exactly what they are going to buy."

Faafoi says that people will buy tickets because they are desperate to go and purchase them "sight unseen", making them easy pickings for scalpers. 

He says they are also looking at banning the use of ticket bots, even though they know it will be difficult, but it has been done. 

"Concern about this practice has already resulted in bots being banned in the United States, the United Kingdom and in New South Wales, Australia – so it seems entirely appropriate we should also be looking to end this practice in New Zealand."

Ardern says that it is not just big international events, but that local productions are also hurt. 

"It's fundamentally unfair that people are profiting while our arts and culture sector is short-changed and consumers are being scammed," Ardern said.

All ticket re-sale websites will be looked at under the legislation, with TradeMe amongst companies that will be spoken to. 

Faafoi says that "buyer beware" does not seem to be working.

"There are a lot of people still being stunned. Instead of it being a Wild West situation where there is very little protection for consumers, something needs to be done so we don't hear the  horror stories." 

He says the only people winning out of this are those who are selling the tickets, with artists also missing out on profits. 

Currently, there is no law which prevents tickets being resold for a higher price except where the event is covered by the Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEM Act).

The MEM Act applies to major events held in New Zealand that provide a substantial benefit to the country such as the Rugby World Cup 2011 and the Lions Tour 2017.

Only the Governor-General, after consultation with specific Ministers, can declare an event a major event under the MEM Act.

To date, no concerts have been declared major events under the Act.

Last month, the Commission failed to win an injunction preventing Viagogo – a Swiss-based ticket reselling company – from making claims about ticket scarcity, pricing and a guarantee of validity.

The Commission alleged those claims are misleading.

Faafoi says that while Viagogo is a legal company, their practices are "questionable".


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