European online ticket industry forced to clean up its act

The news is good for music and sports fans who want to buy seats online

European music and sports fans who buy tickets online got good news on Thursday as the European Commission revealed that it had forced the online ticket industry to clean up its act.

The Commission carried out an investigation into 414 websites across Europe in 2010 and found that only 40 percent were compliant with European Union law. Many of the online sales sites had missing or misleading information about the price, such as hidden taxes or handling charges. Others had unfair terms and conditions -- ticket delivery was not guaranteed on time, or the site failed to explain whether the buyer would get a refund if the event was cancelled.

Following the investigation, national authorities began the enforcement phase by contacting problem websites and telling them to correct the irregularities or face a fine. Most sites were corrected voluntarily, but in some cases penalties were imposed. Enforcement is still ongoing for 35 cases, but 88 percent of the websites selling tickets for cultural and sporting events now check out.

"This is a major achievement for E.U. 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," said Consumer Commissioner John Dalli.

In 2009, 35 percent of E.U. consumers who ever purchased anything online bought tickets either for a cultural or sporting event.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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