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European Commission - Press release

Buying on the internet : it's now safer for consumers to shop for tickets online following EU action

Brussels, 29 September 2011 - Buying tickets for music and sporting events on the internet is now much less likely to end in tears, following a crackdown on problematic websites which sold tickets to non-existent events or which failed to explain whether the buyer would get a refund or not, if the event was cancelled. 88% of the websites selling tickets for cultural and sporting events, checked for breach of EU consumer rules, now comply with EU law (compared with only 40% in 2010), and further improvements can be expected as cases are brought to the courts. The EU co-ordinated "Sweep" investigation was launched in September 2010 by national authorities in all Member States, Norway and Iceland. The problems identified included: incomplete or misleading information about the price of tickets; unfair terms and conditions; incomplete or misleading information about the trader. Sites have been corrected, usually voluntarily, but in some cases penalties were imposed.

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'.

National authorities will continue to work on the outstanding cases. For cross-border cases, they are in contact with their counterparts in other countries. The system of EU-wide sweep investigations will continue, a new sweep is currently being prepared and more joint actions are planned for 2012.

Background

A "sweep" is an enforcement action led by the EU and carried out by national enforcement authorities. Member States carry out simultaneous, coordinated checks for breaches in consumer law in a particular sector. They contact operators about suspected irregularities and ask them to take corrective action. The Ticketing sweep took place in September 2010 (MEMO/10/418). Enforcement authorities across Europe checked websites selling tickets for cultural and sporting events, for compliance with EU consumer law. 414 sites were checked, and then, national authorities followed up on the problematic sites, requesting corrections and imposing sanctions if necessary.

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.

In 2009, about 35% of EU consumers who ever purchased anything online bought tickets either for a cultural or sporting event1. This trend results in better deals and more choice for many buyers. But one of the consequences is also a large number of consumer complaints in this product category. The European Consumer Centres (ECCs) report that 30% of the complaints about online shopping which they handled concerned Recreation and Culture services, of which Cultural and Sport Events form a large part (2009 data).

For more information see:

MEMO/11/644

Sweeps website (including Mock web pages with examples of good/bad practice):

http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/enforcement/sweeps_en.htm

Contacts :

Frédéric Vincent (+32 2 298 71 66)

Aikaterini Apostola (+32 2 298 76 24)

1 :

"Internet Usage in 2009", Eurostat, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/product_details/publication?p_product_code=KS-QA-09-046


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