Australia's Federal Court Finds Viagogo Misled Consumers

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Viagogo is facing stiff penalties after Australia’s Federal Court found the secondary ticketing company misled consumers when reselling concert, entertainment and sports tickets.

The court on Thursday (April 18) found Viagogo in breach of consumer law by making false or misleading claims representations when selling-on tickets. 

Also, the court found that Viagogo’s use of the word "official" in its online ads was misleading and that, during the period of May 1 to June 26, 2017, its website failed to sufficiently disclose ticket prices or additional fees, which were found to include a 27.6 per cent booking fee applied to most stubs.

“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,” comments Rod Sims, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Authority (ACCC), which in August 2017 took action against Viagogo for allegedly ripping off consumers, or more specifically making “false or misleading representations” and for “engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct.”

In one example referred to the court, the ACCC said the total price for two Cat Stevens (aka Yusuf Islam) tickets was found to increase from A$450.00 ($357) to A$579.95 ($460), a rise of 29%, when the A$125 ($100) booking and A$4.95 ($4) handling fees were added.

Prior to that, consumer rights organization Choice referred Viagogo following an investigation into the company's ”dodgy pricing practices” and marketing claims. According to the ACCC's ScamWatch, online scams are costing Australians $300 million a year

Viagogo said it was “disappointed by the ruling” and that 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,” reads a statement attributed to Cris Miller, Viagogo’s head of business development.

“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 organizers release to the box office.”

Viagogo gets no love from Australia’s live music industry. Promoters Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg are boisterous opponents of the platform and its practices, while Live Performance Australia warmly welcomed the launch of ACCC’s proceedings in 2017 as a “very clear message to the resale ticketing platforms that they’ve got to comply with Australian consumer laws.”  

The court will determine penalties and orders against Viagogo at an unspecified later date.