The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a self-regulatory organization of the advertising industry in the UK, has ruled that what Ticketmaster lists to customers as the “best available” tickets are not always the best, but often simply the priciest.
Three complaints were issued to the ASA that challenged whether Ticketmaster UK’s claim that platinum tickets were the “best available” to an event was misleading and could be substantiated. The ASA upheld these complaints, saying that, “the claim was unqualified” and that there was “no discernible difference between [platinum and general tickets] in terms of customer experience.”
When a customer lands on a Ticketmaster event page, “Best Available” versus “Lowest Price” are the two options offered to search ticket inventory. When buying tickets at presale or onsale time, “Best Available” is often the designated method of search.
As of March 2017, ticketmaster.co.uk advertised Ticketmaster Platinum as “THE BEST AVAILABLE TICKETS”. It went on to describe the program, “Ticketmaster Platinum offers fans the best available tickets for an event direct from the artist. Platinum Tickets enable market-based pricing (adjusting prices according to supply and demand) for live event tickets. The goal is to give fans fair and safe access to the best available tickets, while enabling artists and other people involved in staging live events to price tickets closer to their true value …”
Platinum tickets can cost up to three times as much as regular seats. BBC pointed out that fans wanting to see Taylor Swift play in Wembley this summer could pay up to £240 (about $325) for a platinum ticket, compared to £83.70 (about $113) for general admission.
Despite this price discrepancy, some seats branded as “platinum” were no different than standard seats, such as both being in standing sections, or in some cases, objectively worse than standard seats, being farther back from or having a worse view of the stage.
Ticketmaster defended that their platinum product was launched for their most popular, quickly sold-out events as a dynamic pricing service which “enabled their clients to sell a small proportion of the most sought after tickets to their events at market rates that reflected the demand for those tickets.” As such, these tickets would be less likely to sell out immediately and allowed fans more time to purchase tickets closer to the date of the event.
The company said the proportion of platinum tickets was never more than 9 percent of the total tickets, but admitted that as their platinum product increased, “there might come a point where Platinum allocations for certain events comprised “the better and best” tickets, rather than just the “best” tickets for the event”.
The Ticketmaster UK website now describes Platinum Tickets as seen below:
The Ticketmaster U.S. site’s description:
Lesson learned: always do diligent research on the available ticket inventory across multiple websites before settling on the first option afforded to you, even- or especially- when it’s branded with seemingly optimal wording (and several times the price).