Viagogo Misled Customers Into Buying 'Scarce' Tickets, Court Finds
Ticket reseller Viagogo has been found by a federal court to have misled Australian consumers into buying tickets with claims they were "official" and "scarce".
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took action against the company in August 2017, following up to 473 customer complaints of price mark ups and undisclosed fees.
The Federal Court on Thursday found the platform was in breach of Australian consumer law by "making false or misleading representations" and engaging in conduct "liable to mislead the public" when reselling tickets to entertainment, music and live sport events.
It found Viagogo claimed tickets to certain events were scarce -- but this only referred to those available on its own platform, and not those available elsewhere.
“Viagogo’s claims misled consumers into buying tickets by including claims like ‘less than one percent tickets remaining’ to create a false sense of urgency,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
It also found the word "official" in its online advertising misled customers into thinking they were buying tickets from an official site, rather than a resale site.
As alleged by the ACCC, Viagogo's website was found to have advertised a headline price but failed to disclose additional fees -- including a 27.6 percent booking fee on many tickets -- between May and June 2017.
“Viagogo was charging extraordinarily high booking fees and many consumers were caught out,” Sims said.
“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."
He urged consumers to only buy tickets from authorised sellers or risk their tickets being dishonoured at event doors.
Cris Miller, a spokesman for Viagogo, said he was disappointed by the ruling and its failed recognition of the "greater competition" it and other ticket resellers brings to the market.
"It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made," he said.
"We strongly believe our website is compliant and we will continue to work closely and constructively with the ACCC."
Penalties and orders against the company will be determined at a later date.