Culture

StubHub and Viagogo raided in United Kingdom ticket touting probe

Officials have raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo as part of an ongoing investigation into the secondary ticketing sector and suspected breaches of United Kingdom consumer law. The investigation, conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority, focused on the companies' dealings with top-level scalpers and whether inside information is being shared that gives the scalpers an unfair advantage over average fans.

Citing sources close to the inquiry, the newspaper says that during the raids, CMA officials seized data from StubHub relating to its "top seller" program, which provides discounts on seller fees and an exclusive password-protected portal enabling large-scale transactions to its leading touts.

Lavallee's tax arrangements - which are likely legal - have been unearthed alongside an investigation by CBC News in Canada on the scale of his ticket touting operation. The watchdog had earlier issued four ticket resale companies - including GetMeIn and Seatwave - with an "information notice" asking for information on their relationships with major resellers and the money they've earnt from ticket sales.

GetMeIn and Seatwave handed over what was asked of them, but eBay-owned StubHub and Swiss-based Viagogo did not comply. StubHub said the program follows all applicable laws and is not involved in "fraudulent or illegal activity on our site".

The site has previously come under fire from a parliamentary committee for allowing touts to sell tickets without complying with United Kingdom laws that demand sellers provide information such as the row and seat number. Industrial touts like Lavallee may also be breaking other consumer protection laws due to the lack of transparency when tickets are sold on the secondary market.

Although Lavallée has previously said that he doesn't use bots to acquire tickets, CBC News passed its findings onto an event security expert who concluded that was not "feasible" without the use of bot software, which - following the U.S.'s lead - is now in the process of being outlawed in the United Kingdom.

The organisation was given a ringfenced budget to investigate ticket touting past year as part of a package of measures aimed at curbing the secondary ticketing market.

"According to The Guardian, a spokesman for the investigating agency declined comment on the specific reasons for the raids".

"With concerts and events increasingly refusing to accept resold tickets we'd strongly advise people take steps to protect themselves by only buying tickets from official sellers, most of which are working with the authorities to help ensure more tickets are made available to genuine fans through official vendors". Reps for the companies did not immediately respond to Variety's request for comment.



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