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Australian watchdog launches Viagogo investigation as complaints spike

Viagogo is being investigated by officials in Australia following a spike in complaints over scalping and refunds.

New South Wales Fair Trading, the state’s consumer protection watchdog, said a rise in objections against the resale marketplace has been evident since the reintroduction of ticketed events.

The body said there have been 36 complaints received about Viagogo in 2021 so far, 16 relating to ticket scalping, 11 relating to the cancellation of events that were not refunded, five relating to misleading customers that they are the authorised seller, three for tickets not being delivered in a timely manner and one for not providing age restriction advice.

NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rose Webb said with the arts and entertainment already struggling, ticket scalpers and especially Viagogo “should not get away with ripping off consumers”.

“It was big news in 2018 when NSW Fair Trading made ticket scalping illegal by making it an offence for ticket resellers such as Viagogo to charge more than 10% extra on the original ticket price and transactions costs,” Webb said.

“We did briefly see a drop off in complaints but then we saw a spike at the end of 2019. When the pandemic hit complaints obviously dropped off again as events were not able to go ahead.

“However now that events are back on the agenda, we have seen a spike again and despite Viagogo being explicitly warned and receiving a $7 million fine from the ACCC in 2020, they continue to flout the rules.

“Those within the entertainment and arts industry have been vocal about the obliteration of their industry due to COVID and they do not need the additional stress of ticket resellers scalping well-meaning fans.

“We will be investigating and using our powers to stop any unlawful behaviour.”

In 2021 the most common complaints related to tickets for the musical Hamilton exceeding the 110% cap.

The NSW legislation passed in 2017 sees resellers who breach rules facing fines of up to Aus$22,000 ($17,300/£13,200/€14,600) for individuals, and Aus$110,000 for companies.

Viagogo is currently appealing an Aus$7m fine it received last October after the Federal Court found the firm had breached Australian Consumer Law by claiming it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets and that certain tickets were scarce.

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