The event organisation industry contributes significantly to the spiritual and cultural development of society and gives us all positive feelings. At the same time in previous years we have heard of cases where a major entertainment event or concert of a popular performer was announced in Latvia, tickets that were often not cheap started to be sold, but after some time it became known that the event had been cancelled, the organiser of the event avoided responsibility and consumers had problems with recovering their financial resources. This situation distorts the market of organising events and ticket sales in Latvia and reduces consumer confidence in ticket traders and the industry as a whole, which may potentially make it difficult to organise large-scale events interesting for consumers in the future.
With a view to preventing similar situations from happening in the future and eliminating unfair commercial practices in the field of organising events and ticket sales, the Ministry of Economics, the Consumer Rights Protection Centre (CRPC) and the Latvian Association of Event Producers, as well as the industry businesses have agreed on the establishment of closer cooperation between the public administration and the industry, reinforcing it in the Memorandum of Cooperation on fair commercial practices in the field the organisation of events and sales of tickets.
“The Memorandum of Cooperation is another excellent example of how a solution to a problem can be found in cooperation with entrepreneurs, rather than by imposing stricter regulation on them. The nature of the Memorandum provides that the Consumer Rights Protection Centre will provide information to the industry on cases of unfair commercial practices and that the industry will cease any cooperation with the unfair undertaking. The population also plays an important role in ensuring fair business and protecting consumer rights, so I also urge visitors of events to report to the CRPC any cases of unfair conduct of economic operators,” emphasises Ralfs Nemiro, the Minister of Economics.
The Memorandum of Cooperation provides that PTAC will provide information to industry operators on the identified unfair commercial practices and, in cooperation with ticket vendors, will develop criteria for evaluating the organisers of events. Baiba Vītoliņa, the Director of CRPC points out: “CRPC has been receiving consumer complaints about no events and amounts of money not recovered for about 10 years, for example, in accordance with the data provided by SIA “Biļešu Serviss” consumers did not recover funds due to events cancelled in 2018 amounting to 50,039.80 EUR. In addition, it has been observed that concerts by individual event organisers are cancelled several times and consumers are not get back amount of money paid for tickets. There is no special regulation in sales of event tickets, so this memorandum is an important step towards resolving these problems with the help of economic operators in the field and preventing consumers from suffering losses.”
In accordance with the Memorandum, industry operator will inform CRPC and provide relevant evidence, if they have access to information on possible unfair commercial practices, and refrain from pursuing any further transactions with an operator, about which information has been received from CRPC that this operator implements unfair commercial practices. Industry companies in consultation with CRPC have also committed to develop a code of conduct.
Ticket vendors, on the other hand, have committed to provide CRPC with information on contracts, the amount of event tickets sold, the amount reimbursed to consumers, the amount transferred to the event organiser and other information, as well as to exercise adequate professional care when entering into transactions with event organisers, including by requesting sufficient security.
Guntis Ērglis – Lācis, the Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Association of Event Producers points out: “LAEP (Latvian Association of Event Producers) was founded in 2010, when the largest Latvian producers of events, which are active in the field of both public and corporate activities, united. The purposes of the association are to promote the development of the event sector in Latvia, to increase the quality of events, to participate actively in the improvement of the sector regulation, to promote education of young professionals and to improve the quality of producers, as well as to inform the public about the processes in the industry. Unfair commercial practices, when money is not reimbursed to consumers for the events, which have not happened, undermine trust to the field of concerts in general, so we have worked in cooperation with the Ministry of Economics for a long time to find a reasonable solution to this problem. It is clear that producers, who have been active in the industry for a long time, will not tolerate fraudulent activities with ticket money, but in some cases we face fly-by-night organisers and the memorandum signed by the industry shows the way to put in order the fragile concert market in Latvia.”
The Memorandum of Cooperation on fair commercial practices in the field the organisation of events and sales of tickets was signed on 8 August this year by the Ministry of Economics, the Consumer Rights Protection Centre, the Latvian Association of Event Producers, SIA “Biļešu serviss”, SIA “Arēna Rīga”, SIA “BEZRINDAS.LV”, SIA “Ekase”, SIA “Untitled” and SIA “L Tips”.
Other operators in the ticket sales and event organising industry are also welcome to join the Memorandum by submitting a letter of accession to CRPC.