Ticket reseller Viagogo fined $7 million for misleading Australian consumers
Ticket reseller Viagogo has been fined $7 million for misleading Australian consumers with Google advertisements, added fees and claims about the scarcity of tickets.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took Viagogo to court over its practices when reselling tickets for entertainment, music and live sport events.
Last year, a Federal Court judge found the Swiss-based company had breached Australian Consumer Law and made false or misleading representations.
Justice Stephen Burley today ordered Viagogo to pay a penalty of $7 million.
The judge issued an injunction which prevents the company from continuing the offending conduct and ordered Viagogo to take part in a compliance program.
Costs were also awarded against Viagogo.
The company has been the target of customer complaints, industry backlash and court action overseas.
In the ACCC’s case, the spotlight was placed on Viagogo’s use of the word “official” in its Google advertisements over two months in 2017, leading many customers to conclude it was an official seller rather than an online marketplace.
The court found Viagogo’s use of phrases such as “only a few tickets left” was deceptive because they related to tickets available through its own website — not the overall availability of tickets to an event.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the statements created a false sense of urgency.
The watchdog also successfully pursued the company over its added fees, which included a 27.6 per cent booking fee that applied to most tickets in the 2017 period.
The court found the website had drawn customers in with a headline price but did not disclose additional fees sufficiently.
Mr Sims said many consumers were caught out by the “extraordinarily high” fees.
Since the initial court decision, Viagogo has claimed its fees are now clearly disclosed.
The company last year said the ruling did not reflect its current ticketing platform and there had been “many changes”.
It promised to work “closely and constructively” with the watchdog.