Australian Court Dismisses Viagogo Appeal, Ticketing Company To Pay $7M

Australia’s Full Federal Court has dismissed Viagogo AG’s appeal that it made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of tickets to live music or sporting events.

“Notwithstanding that Viagogo is not happy with the result, it has failed to establish error on the part of the primary judge,” the appeal judges wrote May 18.

The court also upheld the finding made by the primary judge that from May 1, 2017 to June 26, 2017, Viagogo’s website posted a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets, including a 27.6 percent booking fee for most tickets until later in the booking process.

Examples included a ticket for “The Book of Mormon” advertised at A$135 ($94.13) but sold for A$177.45 ($123.74) after fees were added while a A$330.15 ($230.21) cricket ticket ultimately sold for A$426.81 ($297.61).

It was also found to have falsely claimed to be the official reseller of certain tickets, and that some tickets were scarce.

The decision means the Switzerland-based ticket reseller has to pay a penalty of A$7 million ($4.87 million) for breaches of Australian consumer law.

Viagogo had contended the penalty to be “manifestly excessive.”

“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller that deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site,” said Liza Carver, commissioner of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) which initiated the case in August 2017.

In April 2019 the federal court found Viagogo had misled consumers and ordered it to pay the A$7 million penalty in October 2020.

When imposing the penalty, Justice Burley noted that Viagogo’s conduct was deliberate and some of its misleading claims made “on an industrial scale”.

A Viagogo representative said the firm was disappointed by the decision but that it had made changes during the case.

“[The ruling] does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made to provide greater transparency for our customers, including providing clearer pricing, ticketing availability and event policy information at all stages of the customer journey.”