The Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions (ACCC) has taken Viagogo to federal court for alleged misleading representations and huge booking fees.
The proceedings could widely impact the larger ticketing industry in Australia, with the ACCC contending that, between May 1 and 26 June 26, Viagogo failed to disclose its “significant and unavoidable” fees upfront in ticket prices, including a 27.6 per cent booking fee for most events on top of a handling fee.
In addition, the competition regulator and national consumer law champion said Viagogo claimed tickets were scarce (“less than one per cent of tickets remaining”), without disclosing that it was referring only to tickets held by Viagogo.
The secondary ticketing site also promoted itself through the use of the word “official” in its Google Ads, misleading customers to believe it was the primary ticket seller.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard told Guardian Australia she hoped the Australian court case would increase awareness among consumers.
“We hope that people become more aware of the existence of the secondary ticketing industry, and learn that it’s advisable to deal with the authorised seller for tickets instead,” she said. “We really want to get the message out: don’t just automatically click on the first thing that comes up on the Google search bar … look for the authorised seller, and purchase through them.
“From Viagogo, we hope that they stop misleading consumers; they stop pretending they are the official seller; that they disclose the full price upfront or as soon as it’s possible.”
The ACCC has reportedly received 473 contacts about the reseller from Australian consumers this year, with Coldplay, Adele and Midnight Oil fans all suffering from touts inflating ticket prices on the Viagogo platform.
Yesterday (Monday), consumer advocacy group Choice encouraged the legal action, saying it “highlights the need for urgent reform in the industry.”
Google said earlier this month that the secondary ticket sites are not breaking its advertising rules, after UK MPs urged the search engine to ban resellers from promoting themselves as official vendors.
Image: Christopher Harris