Watchdog Takes Action Against Viagogo

Consumer watchdog The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) initiated action in the Federal Court Aug. 28 against ticket reseller Viagogo.  

In a media statement ACCC alleged that the Geneva-based platform breached the Australian Consumer Law when reselling entertainment, music and live sport tickets between May 2017 and June 2017.

The ACCC said it had been contacted 473 times about Viagogo by consumers this year.

“We allege that Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in the ticket price, including a 27.6 percent booking fee for most events and a handling fee,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.

Examples cited included two Cat Stevens tickets increasing from A$450.00($357.16) to A$579.95 ($460.31) (a 29 percent markup) when the A$125 ($99.21) booking fee and A$4.95 ($3.92) handling fees were included. The price of a “Book of Mormon” musical ticket marked up from A$135 ($107.15) to A$177.45 ($140.84), a 31 percent increase when the A$37.50 ($29.76) booking fee and handling fees were included.

The ACCC further alleged that Viagogo misled consumers by promoting itself as an authorised ticket seller through the use of the word “official” in search engine advertisements such as Google.

“By using the word ‘official,’ we allege that Viagogo represented in these ads that consumers could buy official original tickets, when in fact Viagogo is a platform for tickets that are being on-sold by others,” Rickard added.

On Aug. 27, three state governments issued warnings for consumers to be careful in dealing with the company. New South Wales’ Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said that NSW Fair Trading received 187 consumer complaints and 237 inquiries.

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading received 43, according to the state’s Attorney General Yvette D’Ath. In Western Australia complaints stood at 45 compared with nine for the whole of 2016, said acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard. Complaints included hidden fees, no refunds if an event was cancelled, and delayed delivery of tickets.