Tickets resale online : is this legal ?

Concert illustrant la revente de billets

You bought concerts tickets and you cannot go anymore ? That’s not an issue, you can resell your ticket in one click on internet. But is this legal ? Let’s go back on this situation in more details :
If websites such as eBay or Leboncoin allow any private individuals to sell their goods that have no or no longer use, this doesn’t mean there is no legal frame to it.
In fact, individuals selling medicine online, counterfeited tickets, mini or quad bikes in some occasions, raffle tickets or even human body parts, can find their criminal liability engaged.

The case of concert, theater, shows or sport events tickets isn’t nonetheless unlimited.

The reselling of show tickets

Am I allowed to resale a show ticket ?

Yes, but…

The resale of a show ticket, regardless its nature (sporting, cultural, live performance or even commercial event), is possible as long as it remains a one-time sale, not on a regular basis (article 313-6-2 of French penal code), and only if the proposed price doesn’t exceed the original purchase’s price regarding sponsored performance (French law 27 June 1919 « portant répression du trafic des billets de théâtre »).

Beware : some events do specify when entry tickets are « nominative and non assignable » Eventhough controls remain very rare, there is a possibility that the resaled tickets might not allow the buyer to enjoy the event.

Concretely, it is forbidden to resell tickets without the explicit consent of the event’s producer if the person does it on a regular basis. If you are a private individual and wishes to sell events tickets because you can no longer attend it and not in order to make a profit out of it, the resale is legal. However, this question tends to be more delicate for reseller companies for whom it represents their main activity and thus, does resell on a regular basis.

Does a website have the rights to allow tickets reselling ?

According to the French law of the 27th of June 1919 regarding theater tickets trade (« portant répression du trafic des billets de théâtre ») if the reselling value is exceeding regarding sponsored events is illegal, a price increase of 20% is accepted if made by any approved organisation.

Practically, it means that a website will not be able to resell tickets legally and making profit if it is not recognised as an authorized reselling organisation by the event’s organisers. Moreover, the resell will not be operated if the price is increased by more than 20% of the nominal value of the ticket. Eventhough the law appears to be pretty old and does not mention specifically theater or sponsored tickets, it has recently be evoked in order to usefully condemn Viagogo, which resells all sorts of events tickets with a far superior increased price than the 20% tolerated on the prior amount.

Can I legally buy a show ticket online ?

In every scenario, you cannot be considered legally liable for buying it. But the lawfulness of your purchase doesn’t guarantee you to fully benefit from your event.

In fact, two cases can be distinguished :

If the reseller gets authorization: nothing could possibly restrain you from enjoying your plans !
(approved resellers : Fnac, Digitick, Ticketnet, StadeFrance or ticketing services from mass retail such as Carrefour Spectacles).
If the reseller is unauthorized : you may buy tickets, often for sale by individuals who use the platform, that will not allow you to enjoy the event!

– because they may be non-compliant (the location may differ from the particular advertisement) ;
– because it can be couterfeited, thus unusable ;
– because it can be « nominative and non sendable » and consequently unusable in case of identity control at the entry door ;
– because it can be printed in several copys and sold to several customers in which case the first arrived on the location of the event only will be attending it, the others will be denied entry.

Furthermore, tickets reselling platforms often break the law and use prices way higher than the nominative value. Therefore you risk to pay your ticket a lot more than its real value.

Thus it is highly recommended to approach the official and authorized resellers in order to receive your tickets. Only these resellers can guarantee you a fair price and a valid ticket for entry to the event’s location. Chat groups are filled with comments and bad reviews upon such purchases. Indeed, many people are complaining about operators services which have sold non conform, counterfeited, nominative, outrageously overpriced tickets that didn’t permit them to attend the event.

Following those many complaints, often expressed at the entry to a confused and embarrassed security agent and as they are obliged to deny the entry to people for such a reason, the national music and variety show union, the Prodiss, has been created. The union committed to raise consumers’ awareness by proposing a strong and large scale action against illegal resale. They published a guide for consumers and professionals in order to avoid such fraud. If the union has already filled a criminal complaint against Viagogo in early 2018, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has followed the same procedure for unfair trading in June 2018.

Earlier this year, the French Federation of Tennis (FFT) had made Viagogo condemned for sale without authorization tickets for a tennis tournament even though the official ticketing service had not opened yet.

Though, this dynamic against those reseller operators is not recent : in 2012, then 2014, the French festival Les Vieilles Charues, the Professional Football League (LFP) and the french Federation of football (FFF) also succeeded to make Viagogo condemned for unothaurized reselling and attempt to their monopoly exploitation. In January 2018, the French general Direction of trade competitiveness, consumption and fraud control (DGCRF) ordered Viagogo to cease its deceptive practices, such as the non inclusion of every charge composing the price, error on availability of tickets and outrageous prices.
At the same time, in 2018, the company has been called out in Germany and the United Kingdom, as its website is prohibited from selling concert tickets.

Besides, the British High court of justice ordered Viagogo, under the market and trade Authority’s instructions, to include clearer information whether the tickets present a risk of not being accepted at the entry, to indicate seat numbers, to check the authorization of selling of the reseller and ease the refund in case of dispute.

Despite all these convictions, the website is still providing a lot of tickets for concerts, sport and cultural events. Many customers keep on complaining about prices, obscure « management fees » or about the denial of entry once arrived to the event’s location with the controversial ticket.

Have you bought a show ticket on Viagogo’s online platform ?
Join the collective action conducted by Maître Bénédicte Rajot on our platform.

French version of this article is available here.

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