Australian consumer group CHOICE takes aim at Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale

CHOICE, the Australian consumer rights group, has filed complaints against reselling websites Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo over “dodgy pricing practices [and] cheap ticket claims”.

The group has referred the findings of an investigation into the secondary ticketing market to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

CHOICE found consumers hoping to attend popular music concerts or sports events were faced with the prospect of not just paying exorbitant prices, but also the possibility that their expensive tickets may get them into trouble. Buying tickets from resale websites “can see you over-paying, having your ticket cancelled by the venue and facing significant fines”, CHOICE said.

CHOICE found that grandstand tickets to Justin Bieber’s upcoming stadium show in Brisbane were being illegally sold for A$1,150 (£720/$875/€830) – a 514 per cent increase on their original A$187 price. In Queensland, legislation permits mark-ups of more than 10 per cent on original sale value for tickets to Stadium Queensland venues, with fines of A$2,438 for sellers and A$609.50 for buyers.

Click here to see the CHOICE report

“We found Viagogo was the worst offender when it comes to dodgy pricing practices [and] cheap ticket claims,” CHOICE said.

CHOICE accused Viagogo of engaging in illegal ‘drip pricing’, with prices jumping by 25 per cent between ticket selection and checkout page. Hidden costs include a booking fee, a ‘secure ticket’ handling fee, and Swiss value-added taxes. Between fees paid by the seller and fees dripped in at the checkout, Viagogo takes in about 28 per cent of the sale price, according to CHOICE.

“The important thing is consumer awareness,” Live Performance Australia (LPA) chief executive Evelyn Richardson told CHOICE. “People need to know where they’re buying their ticket from, and if they’re buying from the secondary market that they’re aware of the risks associated.”

In response, Ticketmaster told the ABC news website it was “100 per cent committed to transparency and is continually reviewing its practices and platforms to ensure it is fully compliant with applicable regulations”.

“We see ourselves as the leading example of good practice in the ticketing market and will continue to work to provide customers with fair and transparent pricing structures,” the company said. “If instances of non-compliance by sellers are highlighted to us we take appropriate action to ensure the sellers address those issues.”

Meanwhile, ABC alleges that Frontier Touring, which is promoting Midnight Oil’s 2017 reunion tour, is also preparing a submission to the ACCC focusing on what it called “misleading sales tactics and language” used by some resale sites.