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News April 18, 2019

Australian Federal Court finds Viagogo guilty of misleading consumers

Australian Federal Court finds Viagogo guilty of misleading consumers

UPDATE 18/4: Viagogo’s Head of Business Development, Cris Miller, has since issued a statement responding to the ACCC’s ruling. Read the full statement below

After years of complaints, the Australian Federal Court has ruled that controversial secondary ticket reseller Viagogo misled consumers in the past.

For many years, ticket reseller Viagogo has managed to make a name for itself as one of the most unpopular services in the country.

In fact, artists such as The Rubens and Gang Of Youths have also thrown their support behind an anti-Viagogo campaign, with the former noting the company “exist(s) to rip you off, take your hard earned cash, and let scalpers take advantage of all aspects of a show they have nothing to do with.”

Likewise, Gang Of Youths took to Instagram in November to ask fans to share their stories of being ripped off by the resale site.

“As many of you have encountered, Viagogo has become one of the most disgraceful and disruptive scams our live industry has faced in recent years,” the band began. “Viagogo impacts promoters, managers, venues, ticket agencies and most importantly artists and their fans.”

“A number of different bodies over the past 12 months have been talking to both State and Federal Government regarding this issue. There is an opportunity to help eradicate this business from Australia.”

Of course, this hatred of Viagogo isn’t limited to Australia, with the service reportedly defying a German court order against the resale of Rammstein tickets, and UK campaigners urging Google to stop supporting the site through advertising.

Following Gang Of Youths’ campaign, a spokesperson for Viagogo noted they were simply a third party platform, and that they did not partake in the selling of fake or fraudulent tickets.

“Viagogo provides a platform for third party sellers to sell tickets to event goers,” a spokesperson stated. “Viagogo does not set ticket prices, sellers set their own prices, which may be above or below the original face value.”

“The tickets sold on Viagogo’s platform are genuine tickets that have been sold on by the original ticket purchaser in good faith.”

Although there have been cases in the past where Viagogo have supposedly been caught selling fake tickets, the company asserted that only “genuine tickets” are sold through their website, and that issues can be directed to their “event day hotline”.

Notably, they also attempted to explain away the abundance of overpriced tickets on the site, noting that prices increase “where demand is high and tickets are limited”, and that “customers will often find multiple sets of tickets for the same section at different prices” elsewhere on the site.

Viagogo also called claims that their tickets could be considered fraudulent and may see buyers refused entry as “highly unfair and in our view, unenforceable and illegal.”

“Therefore, as with all tickets on our platform, Viagogo customers should feel confident that they will gain entry to the event, and that is why we back every ticket with the Viagogo guarantee.”

Check out Choice’s look into Viagogo:

Now, following countless campaigns against the service, the Australian Federal Court has found that Viagogo AG has made “misleading representations” and “engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public”, directly breaching Australian Consumer Law.

Notably, the Court pointed towards Viagogo’s habit of informing consumers that tickets to an event they were looking for were scarce, when in fact the scarcity was only related to those tickets available on the resale platform.

“Viagogo’s claims misled consumers into buying tickets by including claims like ‘less than 1 per cent tickets remaining’ to create a false sense of urgency,” explained Rod Sims, Chair for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

“We urge consumers to only buy tickets from authorised sellers, or they risk their tickets being dishonored at the gates or doors,” Mr Sims said, referring to how the site assured consumers they were buying tickets through an official channel, rather than third parties.

Similarly, the Court also noted how Viagogo attracted a number of claims which saw consumers reeled in with promises of a headline price, but failing to disclose additional fees, including a 27.6% booking fee in most cases.

“Viagogo was charging extraordinarily high booking fees and many consumers were caught out,” Rod Sims continued.

“Today’s Federal Court decision is a reminder to businesses that consumers must be clearly told that there are additional fees associated with a displayed price.”

At this stage, Viagogo have not issued any statements in regards to this ruling.

UPDATE 18/4: Viagogo’s Head of Business Development, Cris Miller, has since issued a statement responding to the ACCC’s ruling. Read the full statement below:

“We are disappointed by the ruling. It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made. We strongly believe our website is compliant and we will continue to work closely and constructively with the ACCC.”

“Our first priority continues to be to provide people with a safe and secure platform to buy or sell sport, music and entertainment tickets, many of which would otherwise not have been available to them due to the limited number that event organisers release to the box office.”

“Without services like viagogo, people would be forced to return to buying and selling tickets outside venues, or to use informal social media platforms where no customer protection exists. We don’t believe anyone should have to take that risk.”

“We are disappointed that the Chair of the Commission does not support the greater competition that viagogo and other ticket resellers bring to the market which provides greater choice for Australian consumers.”

Check out The Checkout’s take on Viagogo:

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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