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MPs urge customers to avoid Viagogo

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee has urged music fans to boycott Viagogo and has called for a review of resale law.

In a live music industry report by the DCMS, MPs criticised the controversial secondary ticketing site for “misleading” consumers, as well as Google for continuing to accept its paid-for ads.

“We regret that such time and public money is being spent on bringing the platforms, principally Viagogo, into line with consumer law that they should have complied with from the outset,” the report said. “We believe that Viagogo has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator given its history of resisting compliance, court orders and parliamentary scrutiny, and flouting consumer law.”

Earlier this month, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was ready to take legal action against Viagogo as it allegedly remains non-compliant with a court order served in November 2018 citing breaches of consumer law. Viagogo maintains the sentiment that “we strongly believe we are not in breach of the court order.”

The firm has also been entrenched in a legal battle with Ed Sheeran and his promoter Kilimanjaro Live, as well as accusations of “callous profiteering” from charity events.

The committee said ticket-buyers are still at risk while the CMA’s legal action is ongoing. Damian Collins, the committee chair, said it had taken the highly unusual step of advising consumers not to use Viagogo in the meantime.

The report has also chastised Google for accepting money for the firm’s adverts that they claimed went against its own guidelines and breached UK law.

It read: “It is time for companies such as Google to take more responsibility and act against such advertising, or else be considered to be knowingly making money out of fraudulent selling.”

Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, who has been active in the fight against touting, said: “I hope that the government will respond positively to the report, particularly to the recommendations about reviewing the effectiveness of current regulations, and act appropriately if they are found to be ineffective.”

The anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance called on Google to remove ads for Viagogo and said its website should be temporarily blocked while the CMA pursues legal action. It said: “If a restaurant poses a risk to public health, we expect inspectors to close it immediately on grounds of consumer protection. Unfortunately, such powers of enforcement are seemingly absent when it comes to online ticket touting.”

Viagogo said: ““We are disappointed that the DCMS have singled us out particularly, when hundreds of thousands of British citizens use our service to buy and sell tickets to their favourite live events every day and never experience any problems. We provide an invaluable service to UK consumers by giving them access to events in the UK and all over the world. For those transactions that fall into the 1% annually where customers do have an issue, the overwhelming majority of cases are due to the unfair and potentially illegal restrictions the event organisers pose simply because customers have chosen to purchase tickets from a competitor of theirs. We have been complying and will absolutely continue to work constructively with the CMA to make further amends where necessary, all the while putting all of the buyers and sellers who use the platform first.”

Image: Josh Sorenson