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Choice shops secondary ticket sites to Aus govt

The consumer group says sites such as Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale could breaking a law which requires all charges to be included in the advertised price

By Jon Chapple on 20 Mar 2017

Tom Godfrey, Choice

image © Choice

Australian consumer organisation Choice has uncovered multiple alleged breaches of consumer law following an investigation into the country’s secondary ticketing sector.

The investigation, which focused chiefly on Viagogo and Ticketmaster Resale, found those who buy tickets from secondary sites generally pay over the odds – and could, owing to Australia’s complicated state-by-state ticket resale laws, even be liable for hefty fines.

The most serious allegation, however, concerns the ‘hidden’ fees levied by some secondary ticketing sites, which are potentially illegal under Australian law. Commenting a case in which a seller on Viagogo listed tickets to The Avalanches in Sydney for A$199 each, with an additional “handling, booking and VAT fee” of $52, Choice head of media Tom Godfrey (pictured) says: “By dripping in an unavoidable $52 fee, consumers cannot redeem the advertised ticket price of $199. Instead they are slugged a 26% increase, with the total price jumping to $251.

“Under Australian consumer law companies have to advertise the total price of a product or service. It is illegal to drip in additional fees and charges which result in the advertised price unable to be redeemed.”

“Under Australian consumer law companies have to advertise the total price of a product or service. It is illegal to drip in additional fees”

Choice (formerly the Australasian Consumers’ Association) also claims those who buy tickets through Ticketmaster Resale could be levied with a fine – in Queensland, for example, where resale for more than 10% of face value is illegal. “We found Ticketmaster Resale listed VIP tickets to Justin Bieber’s concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for $2,555 – a 374% mark up on the face value of $539 – yet Queenslanders face a fine of more than $600 if they buy a resold ticket above 10% of the original price,” says Godfrey.

Choice has passed on its findings to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), a government authority responsible for bringing legal actions against companies that breach the Competition and Consumer Act.

“We think it’s important that consumers have the right to resell legitimate tickets they can’t use,” comments Godfrey, “but with anti-scalping legislation varying from state to state and some venues cancelling resold tickets, it pays to read the fine print before parting with hundreds of dollars.”


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