COMPETITION / CONSUMER
Live events sector
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has begun legal proceedings against the secondary ticketing website Viagogo, accusing the controversial ticket resale platform of making false or misleading representations, and of engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, joining a number of actions that Viagogo is facing in different countries around the globe.
In the UK, Viagogo has faced growing complaints, not least because it re-sold tickets for the Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert, because not one representative of the now Swiss based company turned up for the investigation into ticketing by the Parliamentary Culture Select Committee despite Viagogo having a UK office, and has faced a furious backlash from consumers, most noticeably from the Victims Of Viagogo campaign on Facebook.
The ACCC is claiming in the filing with the Australian Federal Court that the secondary ticketing company breached Australian consumer rights law between 1st May and 26th June this year. Among the specific complaints made by the ACCC are that: Viagogo failed to disclose upfront significant booking fees, estimating that these average 27.6% for most events; that it misled consumers about ticket availability by making statements like “less than 1% of tickets remaining”, without explaining that that only referred to Viagogo’s own supply of tickets; and that it used the word ‘official’ in Google adverts, implying it was an approved primary ticket seller (issues that have been raised in other jurisdictions).
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said: “We allege that Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in the ticket price, including a 27.6 per cent booking fee for most events and a handling fee. [And] Viagogo’s statements such as ‘less than 1% of tickets remaining’ created a sense of urgency for people to buy them straight away, when tickets may have still been available through other ticket sources”.
She added that her organisation also alleges that “by using the word ‘official’, Viagogo represented in [its] ads that consumers could buy official original tickets, when in fact Viagogo is a platform for tickets that are being on-sold by others”. The ACCC had received 473 customer contacts about Viagogo this yearn and Rickard said: “The ACCC expects all ticket reselling websites to be clear and upfront about the fees they charge, the type of tickets they sell and the nature of their business”.
In Queensland, the state’s Attorney-General and Minister For Justice Yvette D’Ath specifically advised consumers to “think twice” before buying tickets off the Viagogo site, reporting that the Queensland Office Of Fair Trading had received 43 complaints about the tickets site in the last year. The minister added that to date Viagogo had refused to engage with both Queensland’s OFT and its own aggrieved customers.
the Minister For Better Regulation in New South Wales, Matt Kean, has also spoken out against Viagogo, reporting that NSW Fair Trading had now made over 194 attempts to contact the ticket resale company, and that those communications “had gone vastly unanswered”.