Industry News

MPs threatened with arrest at Viagogo office

Two MPs were threatened with arrest as they attempted to confront Viagogo executives at the company’s London office.

Conservative MP Nigel Adams and Labour’s Sharon Hodgson, both prominent campaigners against the secondary ticketing market, were joined by music fans and industry figures, including Ed Sheeran’s manager, Stuart Galbraith, and FanFair Alliance’s Adam Webb, as they visited the Fenchurch Street site.

The MPs said they wished to speak to senior figures from Viagogo as the secondary ticketing company did not provide a representative to the parliamentary inquiry that took place earlier this year.

Security staff told the group that the company’s executives did not wish to speak to them. They then asked the MPs to leave and said: “I don’t want to have to call the police.”

“Viagogo told parliament they couldn’t attend the inquiry because they are registered in Switzerland and do not have adequate representation in the UK,” Adams, chairman of the All Party Group on Music, said in a statement. “But we have found that they have this secret office so we have come here to meet them in person.

“We’re both reasonable members of parliament and all we want is drop off a letter.

“It’s extraordinary that we are being turned away. This is clearly a shifty, slippery and secretive company.”

The MPs’ visit to the Viagogo office came just days after the company was accused of violating consumer regulations when it listed tickets for Ed Sheeran’s 2018 tour. Thousands of tickets being resold were subsequently cancelled.

Growing antipathy towards Viagogo was illustrated by responses to a tweet from Hodgson, with social media users calling for action against its partners, including Awin, the global affiliate network.

Which? says Viagogo and others selling one in four tickets for UK events

Meanwhile, a new report by consumer group Which? has found that as many as one in four tickets to popular concerts, theatre and sporting events end up at inflated prices on resale websites.

Which? said 26 per cent of tickets for comedian Jack Whitehall’s upcoming Eventim Apollo show were eventually listed on major resale sites.

Researchers from Which? monitored tickets listed for 65 events on the four main resale sites Viagogo, StubHub, GetMeIn and Seatwave between April and June.

Consumers told the watchdog their two biggest problems when buying tickets on these sites were paying more than face value (72 per cent) and hidden fees (46 per cent), while one in 10 said the seat or area was not as described.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is currently investigating suspected breaches of consumer protection law in the secondary ticketing market.

Which? found a lot of confusion over the status of the websites. Half of people (49 per cent) who bought tickets on the sites thought they were official sellers.

Alex Neill, the Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “People are finding themselves having to buy tickets through secondary sites more and more, and yet many struggle to find the basic information required by law.

“There needs to be more transparency within the secondary ticketing industry and the competition authorities must take strong action against those who aren’t playing by the rules.”

Ticketmaster, which owns GetMeIn! and Seatwave, said: “We have always championed transparency and consumer protection, and pride ourselves on ensuring compliancy with all rules and regulations.

“We never list primary tickets on resale sites, and we do not allow anyone to list tickets before they are available to the public.”

IMAGE: MPs Nigel Adams (left) and Sharon Hodgson with Stuart Galbraith and Adam Webb outside the Viagogo offices in London. Photograph: Corinne Chinnici