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News August 8, 2022

Viagogo Investigated Under WA Scalping Laws

Senior Journalist, B2B
Viagogo Investigated Under WA Scalping Laws

WA’s Consumer Protection is investigating ticket re-selling website Viagogo for possible breaches of the state’s anti-scalping laws, in a bid to collect enough evidence to launch legal action.

These relate to mark-ups on tickets for concerts by Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber and Tyler the Creator as well as for a Harlem Globetrotters game, the Super Netball Grand Final and the Van Gogh Alive exhibition.

The tickets were sold for at least twice the original price and, it says, in one case, nine times higher.

WA sharply tightened its scalper protection in September 2021, with the Ticket Scalping Act (2021) outlawing bots and making it illegal to re‑sell a ticket for over 110% of its original price.

Publishers of ads that breach these laws are liable for prosecution, with $20,000 fines for individuals, $100,000 for companies and $500,000 for those using ‘bots’ to buy.

Gary Newcombe, Commissioner for Consumer Protection, said it was the legal obligation of websites to identify illegal sales on their sites and immediately remove those ads.

“Viagogo needs to do more to prevent these ads being posted on their website, as the law is broken as soon as the illegal tickets are made available to the WA public,” he stated.

“While Viagogo has removed some ads that have been brought to their attention by regulators, they need to take proactive measures ideally to detect the ads before they get posted, or have them removed as soon as possible afterwards, without waiting for others to bring them to their attention.”

Consumer Protection’s executive director Trish Blake further told 6PR “Perth Live” that warnings to Viagogo had not stopped the issue.

“We are incredibly frustrated. We’ve had multiple communications with them about the laws, they’ve told us they know the law and yet we continue to see the sale of tickets that breach these laws on their platform.”

Viagogo responded with a statement that in recent years it “significantly overhauled our platform to ensure that sellers comply with their local regulatory obligations, including in Western Australia”.

This included disclosing greater pricing details at the start of the sale, and greater transparency on the availability of the tickets.

“Viagogo is thoroughly investigating recent events to ensure that sellers stick to the rules on our platform,” it asserted.

“We will continue to work with all regulators and welcome regulation that promotes competition and offers choice, flexibility and protection for consumers.”

The Federal Labor Government has indicated it has heard the live sector’s complaint that ticket scalping has to be addressed on a national level than the current piecemeal approach by states.

So far only the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has taken legal action against Viagogo, doing so in August 2017 for false or misleading representations.

The result was a $7 million fine by the Federal Court in October 2020, with Justice Burley describing Viagogo’s conduct as deliberate and some of its misleading claims made “on an industrial scale”.

Viagogo’s appeal was dismissed in May 2022.

In July 2021, NSW Fair Trading began an investigation after 36 complaints since the start of the year Consumer Affairs Victoria received 334 contacts regarding event ticketing and ticket resales in the 2020–21 financial year, compared to 655 during 2019–20.

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