In the past week, UK consumers have been warned by MPs to avoid using the resale site Viagogo, in order to buy or sell tickets to musical and sporting events. It has told consumers that the platform has not shown itself to be a ‘trustworthy’ operator despite pressure from the government.
The warning was issued by the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee, and was also part of a much wider report into the state of the UK’s live music sector. MPs specifically warned UK consumers against the company because of accusations that the website has been known to be ‘flouting consumer law’. In fact, the company was issued with a High Court order, that instructed Viagogo to become compliant with the Consumer Rights Act, by stop giving consumers misleading information about both the popularity and availability of tickets on its website.
However, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who secured the High Court order, has said that it is looking to seek further legal action due to the lack of compliance by Viagogo.
Who is Viagogo?
The company has its headquarters based in Switzerland, and it is a secondary ticketing platform. Its customer can buy tickets to coveted shows that are sold out elsewhere. These are bought from resellers on the site.
An extensive investigation was recently carried out by the UK Competition and Markets Authority into the resale market in the UK. This was enforced after a number of concerns had been raised about consumers being harmed by unscrupulous reselling practices. Furthermore, there were fears that touting online on an industrial scale had been leading to the huge inflation of these tickets on reselling platforms like Viagogo.
What does the report say?
The report that was written by the CMA explores a number of different issues in the ticketing market industry, as well as potential solutions for them. These include the following:
- The CMA urgently needs to act to ensure that Viagogo is compliant with consumer law. Until it does so, the public is advised to neither buy or sell tickets through the platform.
- There should be a better process for dispute resolution with secondary ticket sellers on the site. The report states a possible solution involving a ticketing ombudsman, however, the Government has stated it does not intend legislating an ombudsman in the near future.
- The Breaching of Limits on Ticket Sales Regulations 2018, implemented by the UK government last year, has been recommended in the report to be reviewed in terms of its actual impact against ticket touts who dramatically rev up prices. The law, aimed at preventing touts purchasing a large number of tickets and then selling them on at a considerable profit, has yet to have a review on how well it has actually worked.
- The CMA report recommends that the government makes it clear what the responsibilities are for companies to ensure that any online advertisements are compliant with consumer protection laws.