The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched court action against secondary ticketing website Viagogo over concerns it is breaking consumer protection law.
The CMA began enforcement action against four major secondary ticketing websites last November. As a result, three of those sites - eBay-owned StubHub and Ticketmaster's Get Me In! and Seatwave - offered formal commitments in April to ensuring better information will be provided about tickets being resold through their platforms.
Since Viagogo has not offered to make the changes the CMA considers necessary to bring it in line with the law, legal proceedings have been brought in the High Court.
Andrea Coscelli, CMA CEO said: “People who buy tickets on websites like Viagogo must be given all the information they are entitled to. 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.”
Earlier this week the Guardian reported that Viagogo is preparing to move much of its UK workforce to New York, amid enquiries into its European operations. The CMA is concerned that Viagogo is breaking consumer law - with the result that customers are:
- not being told if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door
- not being informed which seat in the venue they will get
- not being told who is selling the ticket, so that they can benefit from enhanced legal rights when buying from a business
- given misleading information about the availability and popularity of tickets – which has the potential to lead to them being rushed into making a buying decision or making the wrong choice
- experiencing difficulties in getting their money back under viagogo’s guarantee when things go wrong
- being offered tickets that a seller does not own and may not be able to supply
The CMA is now seeking a court order to bring these practices to an end. It is also seeking an interim enforcement order from the court that, if successful, will put a stop to some practices in the period up until the full trial.
“The news that the CMA have launched legal action against Viagogo is extremely welcome," said MP Sharon Hodgson, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse.
“This has been long overdue, and I know that both campaigners and fans, as well as the music, sport and entertainment industries will join me in applauding this announcement.
“For too long fans have been exposed to the risk of ending up with a ticket that did not get them into an event when buying through Viagogo. Perhaps Viagogo will now realise that consumer protection legislation passed by Parliament is not a minor inconvenience to be ignored and that they can be held accountable through the courts."
Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, said: "FanFair Alliance warmly welcomes today’s announcement by the Competition & Markets Authority, as will the countless consumer victims of Viagogo. Hopefully it spells the endgame to this site’s misleading and abhorrent practices."
Earlier this month, Ticketmaster announced that Get Me In! and Seatwave will be replaced with a new fan-to-fan ticket exchange to be rolled out in the UK and Ireland in October and Europe in early 2019.
Viagogo, which infamously no-showed last March's select committee hearing on ticket abuse, are set to finally face MPs on September 5. Cristopher Miller, the firm's head of business development, has been called to an evidence session for the live music inquiry in Westminster alongside StubHub's UK MD Wayne Grierson, Ticketmaster MD Andrew Parsons, Kilimanjaro Live chief Stuart Galbraith, FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb and Islington Assembly Hall's venue business manager Lucinda Brown.