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Ticket Scalping

The practice of buying tickets and then reselling them for a profit when an event sells out poses some extremely complex problems for both sellers and buyers.

The Major Events Act 2013 (SA) makes it an offence for a person to sell tickets for a declared major event without the permission of the organiser at a price higher than 10% of the face value of the ticket, and imposes significant fines for doing so. However, this is dependent on the declaration that an event is ‘major’, which may not necessarily apply to all events such as concerts or sporting events. See S9.

However, it does not provide affected consumers with a remedy, particularly given that illegal contracts are unenforceable.

Live Performance Australia has developed the Ticketing Code of Conduct which can be accessed here. The Code does not have the force of law but is approved by the ACCC, and includes provisions designed to address ticket scalping.

Buying tickets to any event from a private seller (especially online) carries with it certain risks and buyers need to exercise caution when buying tickets other than from the original promoter.

1. The tickets may not be genuine. This is something that the buyer will only find out when it is too late, and it is otherwise almost impossible to check to see if the tickets are genuine;

2. The tickets may not arrive in time for the event. Again, it is impossible to ensure that tickets arrive prior to the start of the event, or even at all;

3. The booking agency or concert or event promoter is likely to include in the terms and conditions of sale of the ticket a provision to the effect that on-selling of the ticket for profit will mean that the ticket is cancelled and the holder of the ticket will be refused entry.

This last point is discussed in more detail in eBay International AG v Creative Festival Entertainment Pty Limited (ACN 098 183 281) [2006] FCA 1768, where the Court found that, on the basis of misleading and deceptive conduct under S52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), the promoter could not rely on a similar contractual term to cancel tickets bought from resellers on eBay.

The Court’s conclusion related to the difficulty that the promoter had in detecting whether tickets were on-sold for profit, and the fact that any buyer other than the original buyer would have been unaware of the term prohibiting re-sale at a profit. The Court also described its decision as “unfortunate” (notwithstanding the correct application of the legal principles) because of the obvious exploitative nature of ticket scalping.

Caution needs to be exercised when buying tickets from on-sellers. If there are problems with receiving tickets within time to attend an event, or forged tickets or tickets that a promoter has decided to cancel, seek advice immediately. If tickets were bought using a credit card, assuming that there is something wrong with the tickets or the tickets did not arrive in time, it may be possible to seek a chargeback via your Bank.

Ticket Scalping  :  Last Revised: Tue Jan 14th 2014
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