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UK watchdog makes contempt of court claim against Viagogo

The UK’s competition regulator has made a contempt of court complaint against Viagogo after claiming it has failed to comply with a previous ruling over the way it displays ticket information.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it will move forward with legal action against the secondary ticketing site following several warnings that it had not done enough to overhaul the way it presents information on its website to come into compliance with UK consumer protection law following a court order issued in November 2018.

The CMA said that while improvements have been made, Viagogo’s website still uses misleading ticket availability messages and its warnings that tickets with resale restrictions may not guarantee entry to an event do not meet the requirements of the court order.

In addition, the CMA claims that some seat numbers are not being displayed on the website as required and, in some cases, incomplete addresses of businesses selling tickets are being displayed to consumers.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, said: “It is simply not good enough that Viagogo is continuing to drag its heels by not complying in full with this important court order.

“We secured the order on behalf of people who use these resale websites and deserve to know the facts before parting with their hard-earned money.

“After the CMA repeatedly raised concerns with Viagogo, and also took the time needed to give proper consideration to the findings of an independent review of Viagogo’s compliance, we are very concerned that it still hasn’t done what it was ordered to do. We are now taking the next step in legal action to ask a court to find Viagogo in contempt.”

In November 2017, the CMA announced enforcement action against four major secondary ticketing websites – Viagogo, GetMeIn, Seatwave and StubHub. While three of the companies complied, Viagogo missed the deadline and was threatened with court, fines and prison time for its executives.

A court order against Viagogo was issued last year, but while the operator said it would comply, the CMA has made a series of complaints about a lack of progress. In March 2019, the CMA announced it was preparing to take legal action for contempt of court, with Viagogo responding by committing to make further improvements.

The CMA said it has now completed further checks and considered the findings of an independent review of Viagogo’s compliance with the order.

The CMA said Viagogo has made “important improvements to the information customers receive when considering whether to buy a ticket.” It also said the operator had paid out over £400,000 in refunds to people whose claims it had wrongly rejected.

Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, added: “FanFair Alliance fully supports the CMA’s decision in taking further action against Viagogo and asking a court to find them in contempt.

“Our campaign has consistently raised serious concerns that Viagogo remains short of full compliance with UK consumer law, and trust that any court action will take place without delay.

“This company can be allowed no more excuses to delay or drag its heels.”

Viagogo and the CMA have also been in court on a separate issue in relation to a particular part of the order dealing with the use of ‘hover text’ to display the face value of tickets and the deadlines for people to claim for refunds. A hearing took place on June 18 and the CMA is now awaiting the judge’s decision.

Image: Sebastian Ervi