Government to clamp down on ticket scalping

The Government plans to crack down on ticket scalping, the Prime Minister announced during her post-Cabinet press conference. 

"Many New Zealanders are being subject to ticketing scams and fraud, including unknowingly buying tickets at inflated prices from unofficial sites," Jacinda Ardern said on Monday. 

"Professional scalpers are using ticket bots to buy-up large quantities of tickets online and then re-sell them at hugely inflated prices."

The Prime Minister said concerns about this have already resulted in bots being banned in some overseas jurisdictions, the likes of the US, UK and parts of Australia. 

"Consumers aren't getting a fair deal," she said, adding that artists are also left feeling let down when they hear their fans were unable to attend a show because they were ripped off. 

"Given the unfair impact ticket scalping has, we are going to do something about it," Ms Ardern said. 

The Commerce Commission received more than 400 complaints since 2017 about ticket re-selling website Viagogo alone, making it the most complained about trader during that time, Ms Ardern said. 

Viagogo is an official ticket selling website but is also a favourite for scammers to sell fake concert tickets. A number of people have fallen victim to scams on the site over the years.

The Switzerland-based company was summoned to the Auckland High Court last month after it was sued by the Commerce Commission last year over various complaints. 

The Prime Minister said it's not just big international events that are the issue: "These practices also affect our local cultural sector. I've heard that the Upper Hutt Musical Theatre's production of Blood Brothers had tickets on Viagogo advertised for $135 - that's $105 more than the original ticket price."

In addition, she said Te Matatini, a local Kapa Haka festival that recently took place in Wellington, had some tickets listed for $498, when the four-day pass was originally priced at $100. 

"This is blatantly unfair and not good for consumers, or the organisers." 

Ms Ardern was joined by Kris Faafoi, Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, who said the Government may consider price caps on ticket re-sale websites. 

"We are committed to better-protecting Kiwis when they buy tickets, including a price cap on re-sale tickets. We also feel there needs to be better information disclosure."

He said many people sell tickets for legitimate reasons, for example if they can't attend a concert or event anymore. The issue, he said, concerns those re-selling tickets to make a profit where New Zealanders are being ripped off. 

He cited data by Research New Zealand in 2017 that found 54 percent of people who responded to a survey said they had paid more for face value of tickets. It also found that 6 percent of consumers had purchased a ticket that was fake. 

"While misleading and deceptive behaviour is already prohibited under the Fair Trading Act, I am concerned that this doesn't go far enough towards protecting consumers," Mr Faafoi said.