“Many consumers were caught out”: Australian court rules in favour of watchdog’s complaint that Viagogo misled customers with obscured fees and claims of ticket scarcity
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The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a FanFair complaint alleging Viagogo poses as a primary ticketing site with its Google ads
By IQ on 03 Oct 2018
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint by FanFair Alliance that adverts for secondary ticketing site Viagogo on Google search results could mislead consumers.
The ASA decision, which can be read on the ASA website, says the authority disagrees with FanFair’s claims that the disputed Google advert – which was headlined “Rolling Stones Olympic Stadium. Huge Selection of Tickets”, with smaller text underneath stating “On Sale Today And Selling Fast, Secure Your Seats Now As Prices Are Rising” – misled consumers into the assuming the ad was for a primary ticketing platform.
“[S]ites should avoid actively making overt misleading claims, for example by suggesting they were primary ticket sellers when they were not one to ensure that consumers looking specifically for primary ticketing sites were not misled,” reads the ruling. “We noted, in this case, that the ad did not feature any claims or other content that suggested Viagogo was a primary ticketing website. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to mislead consumers.”
The decision, which met with disappointment from anti-ticket touting campaigners, reverses an earlier draft ruling, sent to FanFair in June. The organisation has submitted an appeal to ASA reviewers urging today’s decision is overturned.
“We are struggling to make sense of this decision”
Adam Webb, campaign manager for FanFair Alliance, comments: “We are struggling to make sense of this decision. It defies all evidence and favours a controversial and potentially lawbreaking Swiss website over the interests of British consumers. An ASA stamp of approval flies in the face of everything we know about Viagogo, and implies that the site and its marketing practices meet the regulator’s standard of being ‘legal, decent, honest and truthful’.”
Viagogo is currently facing legal action from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for alleged failures to “overhaul the way [it does] business” to comply with British competition law.
Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, adds: “Viagogo continues to list touted tickets against artists’ wishes and the terms and conditions set by them to ensure fair and fan-friendly resale. The site does not follow UK law and continuously misleads consumers searching for tickets online.
“This decision by the ASA is hugely disappointing and we now urgently await the CMA action and injunction to tackle Viagogo’s misleading practices.”
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