A Facebook group set up to seek refunds for disgruntled Viagogo customers has helped return £100,000 to ticket-buyers in just six months via its #fairgogo campaign.
The Victim Of Viagogo group was set up by Claire Turnham, who says she was overcharged by £1,150 by the company when buying Ed Sheeran tickets, to help others who felt they had been ripped off by the controversial, Swiss-headquartered secondary ticketing site.
FanFair Alliance, which launched in July 2016 to campaign against this industrial-scale of online ticket touting, has now teamed up with Turnham to produce free and comprehensive guidance to assist consumers seeking refunds from resale sites. The guidance, which is available now from the FanFair Alliance website, is advocated by Kilimanjaro Live and DHP Family, promoters of Ed Sheeran's 2018 stadium tour. The promoters recently detailed how fans can claim refunds against fraudlent Viagogo transactions relating to the tour, and revealed that up to 10,000 tickets purchased illegally by known touts have been cancelled.
“Unfortunately, we continue to hear from ticket-buyers who are extremely frustrated when seeking redress from Viagogo, which is why FanFair has teamed up with Claire Turnham to produce some comprehensive guidance to help them secure a refund," said FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb. "This is not an easy process, but having been supported by Ed Sheeran’s management and promoters, we are please to report that Claire’s advice is already proving useful - with the more customer-friendly banks issuing more than £45,000 in chargebacks in less than a month.”
Broadcast last Wednesday, BBC 1’s Watchdog investigation into the UK’s secondary ticketing market has raised further concerns about business practices in the controversial sector. The programme included interviews with distressed Viagogo customers who believe they have been mis-sold tickets via the site and are now struggling to gain refunds. Watchdog also highlighted the company’s aggressive marketing techniques and raised important clarifications from National Trading Standards that Viagogo’s interpretation of UK consumer law is “incorrect”.
“A properly-functioning secondary market should work in the interests of consumers, and enable those who genuinely need to resell a ticket to do so at the price they paid for it," added Webb. "However, as was highlighted by BBC1’s Watchdog, the business model promoted by Viagogo looks more about profiteering at the audiences’ expense - persistently masquerading as an 'official site' in its online advertising, employing high-pressure sales techniques and potentially breaching consumer law."
Politicians campaigning for reform in the secondary ticketing market have also voiced their support.
MP Nigel Adams said: “I’m glad Watchdog has used their platform to expose some of what fans go through with touts and particularly Viagogo. Claire is an excellent campaigner and her guide will prove invaluable to many - but consumers shouldn’t be put in this position in the first place.”
Sharon Hodgson, co-chair of the APPG on ticket abuse, said: “BBC Watchdog’s investigation shows just how important it is to continue highlighting the shady practices of Viagogo and why we still have a long way to go to clean-up this broken market. Part of this clean-up is to ensure consumers have all the knowledge and education in their arsenal to navigate these practices. That is why it is welcome that FanFair Alliance and Claire Turnham have teamed up and produced such a thorough and comprehensive guide for fans to help them deal with Viagogo’s very unhelpful customer services.”
The legal fight against ticket touts has been gathering pace across Europe, with cases brought against Italy’s main primary ticket sellers – including Live Nation and Vivo – as well as the two companies’ directors, have been accused of misleading consumers about how close concerts were to selling-out. There are also accused by the State Prosecutor of signing “hidden agreements” with Viagogo to pass on tickets to be sold at “unreasonably” high prices.
In Spain, meanwhile, an investigation has led Madrid City Council to request that the region’s Department Of Consumer Affairs enforces legal sanctions against Ticketmaster. This follows a complaint made against Ticketmaster’s practices by FACUA, a Spanish not-for-profit organisation dedicated to defending consumer rights.