It's now safer to buy tickets online- thanks to the EU

ticketsWe’ve all heard of some poor sod who’s bought tickets to see Diana Ross live only to discover the tickets never arrive/are fake/are for a non-existent event and so ends up crying into his hankie. However, a crackdown from the EU of all places now means the internet is a safer place for ticket buying.

In 2009, about 35% of EU online-purchasing consumers bought tickets either for a cultural or sporting event. Although buying such tickets online can mean better deals and more choice, historically there have also been a large number of consumer complaints in this product category. The European Consumer Centres (ECCs) reported in 2009 that 30% of the complaints about online shopping which they handled concerned Recreation and Culture services.

The EU ‘Sweep’ investigation was launched in September 2010 by national authorities in all Member States, plus Norway and Iceland. Most sites complied voluntarily when challenged, but in some cases penalties were imposed. Of the 414 websites originally checked, 88% now comply with EU-wide consumer rules, compared with only 40% in 2010. In terms of the main problems which were identified initially:

Missing, incomplete or misleading information about the price (e.g. hidden taxes or handling charges): 94% of sites now display clear, and accurate information about the total cost (including delivery charges and all other extra costs), compared with 55% in 2010;

Unfair terms and conditions (e.g. ticket delivery was not guaranteed on time, or the site failed to explain whether the buyer would get a refund or not, if the event was cancelled: 92% of the websites checked now display fair terms and conditions, compared to 57% in 2010.

Missing, incomplete or misleading information about the trader (e.g. the trader falsely claiming to be an authorised representative): 93% of the websites checked now provide the required trader details such as the name, address and e-mail, compared with 72% in 2010.

EU Health and Consumer Commissioner John Dalli said: “This is a major achievement for EU consumers : the enforcement ‘sweeps’ are delivering results, targeting problematic sectors, and cleaning up the market, so that pricing is clear and information is truthful. People are using the internet more and more to check their entertainment options and to compare prices and offers – they must be able to do so without falling victim to scams’.

Each national authority will continue to work on the outstanding cases, and in conjunction with their neighbours in cross-border cases. The EU-wide sweep investigation system has been so successful, a new sweep is currently being prepared and more joint actions are planned for 2012.

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