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UK competition regulator takes Viagogo to court

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it is taking Viagogo to court for allegedly breaking consumer protection laws.

The watchdog said that the resale website had failed to make sufficient changes, following previous warnings, to bring it in line with regulations.

The CMA initiated enforcement action against four resale platforms in November 2017 following a probe into the secondary ticketing industry.

GetMeIn, Seatwave and StubHub made the necessary changes, but the CMA said in a statement on Friday that Viagogo had continued to contravene the law by failing to tell customers there is a risk they could be turned away at the door of events, due to restrictions placed on some resold tickets.

The regulator added that customers are also not being given sufficient information about the seat they will secure, while the watchdog also cited misleading information about ticket availability, amongst other issues.

“People who buy tickets on websites like Viagogo must be given all the information they are entitled to,” the CMA’s chief executive, Andrea Coscelli, said. “It’s imperative they know key facts, including what seat they will get and whether there is a risk they might not actually get into the event, before parting with their hard-earned money.

“This applies to Viagogo as much as it does to any other secondary ticketing website. Unfortunately, while other businesses have agreed to overhaul their sites to ensure they respect the law, Viagogo has not. We will now be pursuing action through the courts to ensure that they comply with the law.”

Meanwhile Viagogo has once again been called to appear before UK parliament to answer for a host of controversies.

The inquiry comes almost a year after the site refused to appear in front of MPs at a previous evidence session.

Viagogo, which is already involved in several investigations for alleged offences including breaches of consumer law, is said to be sending vice-president of business development Christopher Miller to the hearing on September 5.

MPs on the department for media, culture and sport (DCMS) select committee will press the Viagogo executive about the long list of alleged wrongdoings involving the Switzerland-based company.

Miller has served as the right-hand man of Viagogo’s publicity-shy founder and owner Eric Baker. The pair worked together at StubHub in the US before moving to Europe and starting up their own secondary ticketing platform.

Earlier this week, it emerged that Viagogo is reportedly planning on moving UK-based staff to New York amid ongoing investigations into its conduct in Europe.

Aside from the CMA action, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) referred Viagogo to National Trading Standards after failing to comply with the advertising watchdog’s transparency criteria.

FIFA also filed a criminal complaint against Viagogo over its conduct in the run up to the 2018 World Cup. Football’s governing body said it had received numerous complaints from individuals, consumer protection bodies and other market players about “opaque and deceptive” Viagogo.

Image: Howard Lake