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. The EU co-ordinated „Sweep“ investigation was launched in September 2010 by national authorities in all Member States, Norway and Iceland. Of the 414 websites originally checked, 88% now comply with EU-wide consumer rules, compared with only 40% in 2010. The main problems which were identified initally were:
- 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 early 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 early 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 to 72% in early 2010.
In 2009, about 39% of EU consumers who ever purchased anything online bought tickets either for a cultural or sporting event. This trend results in better deals and more choices for many buyers. But one of the consequences is also a large number of consumer complaints in this product category. The European Consumer Centres (ECC) 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.
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