Music festival ticket resale confusion

I can no longer use my tickets for a festival in Spain, but it’s been impossible to resell them as they are ‘box-office collection only’

In December I bought two “early bird” tickets for Bilbao BBK Live, a three-day music festival in July.

I signed the terms and conditions – one of which was that the tickets were to be collected at the box office at the event. Unfortunately, I am now unable to attend. The BBK website says if you are unable to attend you can sell your tickets through Viagogo – a secondary ticketing website.

I contacted Viagogo and explained I didn’t have any physical tickets or e-tickets. It told me not to worry, saying that if the tickets sold I could upload a letter of authorisation with photo ID and the last four digits of my card number. This could then be sent to the purchaser. SEE Tickets, the agency that sold me the tickets, also agreed. However, when the tickets sold on Viagogo I received an email from SEE saying the letter of authorisation had been overruled and the transaction cancelled.

I have explained the situation to SEE and asked for an e-ticket or alternative, but it says box-office collection is the only option. Am I within my rights to continue to ask for an e-ticket, or a physical ticket that would allow me to sell them, as I know I can’t get a refund? JM, Liverpool

It’s no wonder you were confused about the situation – it took more than 40 emails and countless phone calls between us, SEE Tickets, BBK Live and Viagogo to get to the bottom of this. There appears to be a rather worrying lack of communication between the three organisations.

Viagogo is certainly advertising plenty of tickets for BBK – including some £85 three-day festival tickets for more than £500 – and the partnership between itself and BBK is made clear on BBK’s website.

So why did you have a problem? Our conversations with BBK and Viagogo resulted in much stalling and changing of stories – with both eventually blaming SEE for not allowing you to sell on your ticket.

Unusually, tickets for BBK are box-office collection only and this seems to be the starting point for the problems with selling the tickets on. As Viagogo told you, you would need to get a letter of authorisation from the festival via SEE – but it seems the nobody told SEE this, hence it turned you down. Once SEE realised everyone was blaming it for the problem, one of its managers came up with a revealing explanation of the background to the problem.

“BBK has asked SEE to sell tickets as collection only,” he said. “Unbeknown to SEE, they have set up a resale relationship with Viagogo. No one from the festival or Viagogo has ever been in touch with SEE to communicate this. The festival or Viagogo has then not had the foresight to provide a solution to SEE customers who want to sell their ticket. If they had, all of this would have been clearly explained via the festival, or Viagogo’s site, and a clear procedure would have been outlined to the customer. That, in itself, would have prevented everything that has happened since.”

SEE admits its own representative was wrong to say you could sell a box office-collection-only ticket via Viagogo and this obviously added to the confusion. The company says it usually sends tickets by post for most other European festivals. A spokesman for BBK told us it is now considering issuing e-tickets “for the purpose of making the access to the festival more convenient for everybody”.

The good news that comes from all this infighting is that SEE, Viagogo and BBK were all falling over themselves to refund you. SEE tickets got in there first and you now have your money back, which you are happy with.

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