Roughly 90% of event tickets sold through resale platform Viagogo in New Zealand were being sold by scalpers, according to reports from the High Court in Auckland.
The platform is currently embroiled in a month-long civil trial in New Zealand, which began on Wednesday, as part of its long-standing battle with the country’s market watchdog.
The Commerce Commission began action against Viagogo five years ago, following a number of complaints from fans that said they had purchased fake tickets for extortionate prices.
Viagogo made a number of changes to its operations in New Zealand to avoid a court injunction, but the Commerce Commission is chasing further action.
The Commerce Commission is asking for the court to formally declare that the resale platform breached the Fair Trading Act. It is also asking for the clause that was in Viagogo’s contract, which claimed that it could only be sued by customers in New Zealand through the Swiss courts, to be formally declared unfair. Viagogo is headquartered in Switzerland and managed out of the US.
As reported by New Zealand news outlet Stuff, Andy Luck, reading the commission’s opening statement, said: “Viagogo admits that over 90% of tickets that are sold in New Zealand are from scalpers; people selling tickets in commercial quantities.”
Luck added that the platform’s core business was not to let ordinary people sell tickets for live music and sporting events that they could no longer attend, but for ticket scalpers to sell to the general public.
Luck, who is a senior associate in litigation firm MC, said that scalpers used bots to buy tickets and sell them on for prices “far above face value”.
The court head that the commission had received 1,300 complaints or communications about Viagogo, and that between July 18, 2016 and October 31, 2022, it resold roughly 323,000 event tickets in New Zealand.
Viagogo denies it misled consumers and that the platform did not use the world ‘official’ in relation to events. Aaron Lloyd, who was representing Viagogo, said that the company provided a platform for people to sell tickets to people who wanted to by them.
Lloyd said:“Viagogo tells the world it’s a secondary market, and the world knows it.”
In a statement, Viagogo managing director Cris Miller said: “Viagogo cannot make detailed comment on the legal claims while the matter is before the court. However, we can say that the issues raised by the Commerce Commission relate to the way our ticketing website worked in the past and do not reflect current operations. We believe that we have addressed the matters of concern raised by the NZ Commerce Commission and have made it a priority to ensure the Viagogo website is operated transparently and in compliance with consumer expectations and consumer protection legislation. We remain committed to complying with these requirements.
“While it would be easy to prejudge Viagogo in this matter, we ask that you allow the court process to play out and hear the perspective of both sides.”