How not to be ripped off over gig tickets in the great rock 'n' roll swindle

There are ways to avoid paying over the odds for tickets for sold-out gigs.
There are ways to avoid paying over the odds for tickets for sold-out gigs.

Going to a gig is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Be it the Proms or Little Mix, fans will sit for hours on phone lines or websites to get their hands on tickets.

But it can turn sour when the price displayed doesn’t turn out to be the price you’re charged - or indeed when the tickets prove to be invalid.

Which is just some of what we discovered while investigating four major secondary ticketing sites.

The two biggest problems consumers told Which? about when buying tickets on such sites were paying more than face value (72%) and hidden fees (46%).

For instance, tickets for the first night of the BBC Proms which originally cost £38, were found to have a mark-up of 279% on StubHub (£144) and 300% on GetMeIn! (£152).

And one consumer who got in touch told us that instead of the £157 he thought he was paying for Ed Sheeran tickets, he was charged £434.

Eventually the site, Viagogo, admitted there was an error and refunded his money.

One in 10 people also told us that the seat they ended up in wasn’t as had been described - chiming with our previous research which found that many websites were breaking consumer law by not listing standing or seating information, such as block, row and seat numbers.

Worse, as one customer told us, was being turned away at the Royal Albert Hall because his tickets were not valid.

He had to wait for over a month to get his money back from Viagogo.

Little wonder the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced an investigation into suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the industry.

When asked, Ticketmaster said the number of tickets sold on its resale platforms (GetMeIn! and Seatwave) are a very small proportion of its overall sales, and StubHub argued that too many tickets are held back for the industry, VIPs and other sellers, inflating the market.

Viagogo, however, failed to respond to repeated attempts to contact them.

Without doubt there needs to be more transparency within the industry and the authorities must take strong action against those who aren’t playing by the rules.

* Send me your consumer queries at askalex@which.


Join fan clubs and mailing lists of your favourite artists and primary ticket sellers for reminders of when tickets go on sale or check for advance notice on and
Remember Google doesn’t differentiate between primary and secondary agents so check before you click.

If a show really has sold out, try free fan-to-fan exchange site, where users can only buy or sell spare tickets at face value or less.