Australia’s Federal Court has ruled that secondary ticketing platform Viagogo has misled consumers by marking itself as an official ticket seller, overstating the scarcity of tickets available for events, and hiding service fees in an attempt to spur purchases, according to multiple sources. Those findings follow the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s decision to instigate legal proceedings against the Switzerland-based resale operation in 2017.
Viagogo responded with a statement pointing out that the findings were based on how the company operated prior to addressing several of the mentioned issues in response to requirements issued by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority in 2018. An attempt by promoter lobby FanFair Alliance to have the Advertising Standards Authority make a similar ruling was rejected, but saw more fertile ground down under.
Head of business development Cris Miller said the company is “disappointed by the ruling,” which “does not reflect” its current state of business operation and “many changes” the company has made, according to a story on IQ-Mag.net.
“Our first priority continues to be to provide people with a safe and secure platform to buy or sell sport, music and entertainment, many of which would otherwise not have been available to them due to the limited number that event organisers release to the box office,” Miller says.
“Without services like Viagogo, people would be forced to return to buying and selling tickets outside venues, or to use informal social media platforms where no customer protection exists.
“We are disappointed that the chair of the commission does not support the greater competition that Viagogo and other ticket resellers bring to the market which provides greater choice for Australian consumers.”
Potential penalties following the ruling could wind up being as high as AU$ 1.1 million per violation.
The court’s findings were based on its interpretation that claims of tickets being in short supply wrongly pushed consumers to making an impulse purchase due to the fact that the short supply was specific to its platform rather than across all ticketing marketplaces. It also objected to use of the word “official” in online advertisements, as well as failing to show that there are additional fees beyond the initial advertised price shown to consumers until they had put tickets in their cart.
“Many consumers were caught out,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said in a statement issued after the ruling. “Today’s federal court decision is a reminder to businesses that consumers must be clearly told that there are additional fees associated with a displayed price.”