News September 3, 2018

UK’s competition regulator taking Viagogo to court

Staff Writer
UK’s competition regulator taking Viagogo to court

The UK’s competition watchdog is taking ticket reseller Viagogo to the High Court over concerns it is blatantly breaking consumer protection law.

These include not disclosing the exact seat number and the seller’s business details or warning that using the seller could see the buyer denied access to the venue by the promoter.

Other concerns are that consumers are being given misleading information about the availability of tickets, forcing them to make hurried and wrong choices; and being offered tickets that the seller might not own or be able to supply.

Last November, the Competition and Markets Authority took action against the big four secondary ticket sites.

Where StubHub, Get Me In and Seatwave promised to change their business model, Viagogo has not done so.

Seatwave and GetMeIn! are to be closed in October by Ticketmaster.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, said consumers who look for tickets on resellers must be told what seat they will get and whether they risk being denied entry to a venue.

“This applies to Viagogo as much as it does to any other secondary ticketing website.

“Unfortunately, while other businesses have agreed to overhaul their sites to ensure they respect the law, Viagogo has not.

“We will now be pursuing action through the courts to ensure that they comply with the law.”

The CMA will also apply for an interim enforcement order from the court to force Viagogo to stop some of its practices until the trial begins.

FanFair Alliance, set up by various sectors of the music industry to tackle the dark side of ticket reselling, applauded the move.

Its campaign manager Adam Webb said: “Hopefully it spells the endgame to this site’s misleading and abhorrent practices.”

Last month when New Zealand’s Commerce Commission took similar action against Viagogo, it admitted that there were issues taking legal action because the site is based in Switzerland.

However, Webb says it’s a different story for the UK: the site has an office in London, and can, therefore, be stopped from selling tickets.

This comes at a time when Viagogo has reportedly moved its UK staff to the US as pressure mounts in Europe over its business practices.

Legal action, formal complaints against or investigations into the ticket reseller have been launched in Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain.

Sharon Hodgson, the MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on ticket abuse, said the CMA’s legal action against Viagogo was long overdue.

“For too long fans have been exposed to the risk of ending up with a ticket that did not get them into an event when buying through Viagogo.

“Perhaps Viagogo will now realise that consumer protection legislation passed by Parliament is not a minor inconvenience to be ignored and that they can be held accountable through the courts.”

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