Online ticket reseller Viagogo has ‘misled’ consumers, Australian Federal Court finds

The Federal Court has found that not only did Viagogo make false claims about ticket availabilities, they also failed to disclose pricey additional fees to consumers.

The Australian Federal Court has found that ticket reseller Viagogo has breached Australian consumer law on a number of counts, relating to misleading consumers.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the Court found three examples of the company misleading the public when reselling tickets for entertainment, music and live sport events.

The first related to the availability of tickets.

“Viagogo’s claims misled consumers into buying tickets by including claims like ‘less than one per cent tickets remaining,’ to create a false sense of urgency,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

 In reality, the ‘scarcity’ only referred to how many tickets the resale platform itself had left - it did not include tickets for sale on other sites.

Viagogo’s use of the word ‘official’ was also criticised as misleading. This resulted in consumers believing they were buying authentic tickets from an official website, when in fact Viagogo is a ticket resale website, located in Switzerland.

Ticket pricing was also a key criticism. It’s understood that Viagogo advertised a ‘headline price’ excluding booking and handling fees – often extending to an extra 31 per cent.

“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,” said Sims.

Penalties and orders are yet to be determined by The Court at a later, unconfirmed date.

Not the first time Viagogo has been under fire

In August 2017, the ACCC took the ticket reseller to Federal Court over allegations that it breached Australian Consumer Law when reselling recreational event tickets from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017.

The ACCC said that in 2017, it received 473 complaints against Viagogo.

In January 2018, it was reported that a quarter of tickets for the Australian Open sold on Viagogo were invalid. This prompted Tennis Australia (same hyperlink as previous) to issue a public warning about the risks of purchasing tickets on reselling platforms.

"We've tried to educate the public for a number of years not to buy from unauthorised resellers and use our official channels,” a spokeswoman said.

Unsatisfied customers have also taken to online review sites to vocalise their concerns and negative experiences, some claiming the site “should be called scalper’s delight.” 

 The ACCC says event ticket consumers should be aware of their rights – a guide which is available on their website. Additionally, they have published consumer tips for buying tickets

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