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CMA pursues legal action against Viagogo

After months of warnings and deliberation, the British competition watchdog is taking legal action to find Viagogo in contempt of court

By Anna Grace on 04 Jul 2019

CMA pursues legal action against Viagogo

CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli


image © CMA

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has confirmed that it is moving forward with legal proceedings against Viagogo, as the secondary ticketing site continues to show non-compliance with consumer law.

The CMA has today notified Viagogo that it will be taking action to find it in contempt of court. The decision follows several warnings from the British competition authority that Viagogo had not done enough to overhaul to way it presents information on its website.

In November 2018, the resale site avoided trial by agreeing to address demands made by the CMA and a legally binding court order was drawn up to ensure Viagogo comply with the requirements.

Eight months down the line, the watchdog remains dissatisfied with Viagogo’s efforts.

“After the CMA repeatedly raised concerns with Viagogo, and also took the time needed to give proper consideration to the findings of an independent review of Viagogo’s compliance, we are very concerned that it still hasn’t done what it was ordered to do,” says CMA chief executive, Andrea Coscelli.

“We are now taking the next step in legal action to ask a court to find Viagogo in contempt.”

In particular, the CMA believes that the secondary ticketer does not give sufficient warning to fans that tickets bought through the site may not allow them to enter an event.

“We are now taking the next step in legal action to ask a court to find Viagogo in contempt”

The watchdog also maintains that Viagogo uses misleading information, especially relating to the number of tickets available.

Incomplete ticket and seller information on the site is another point of contention. In many cases, seat numbers and sellers’ business addresses are not disclosed to customers.

The CMA does point out that “many positive changes have been made”. Viagogo has paid out over £40,000 in refunds to people whose claims had been wrongly rejected, and customers now have access to more information than previously.

However, according to the watchdog, these changes do not constitute full compliance with the court order.

“It is simply not good enough that Viagogo is continuing to drag its heels by not complying in full with this important court order,” says Coscelli.

“We secured the order on behalf of people who use these resale websites and deserve to know the facts before parting with their hard-earned money.”

Adam Webb, campaign manager of FanFair Alliance, says the anti-touting group “fully supports” the CMA’s decision.

“This company can be allowed no more excuses to delay or drag its heels.”

“Our campaign has consistently raised serious concerns that Viagogo remains short of full compliance with UK consumer law, and trust that any court action will take place without delay,” comments Webb.

“This company can be allowed no more excuses to delay or drag its heels.”

The British parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee similarly welcomes the decision.

“The CMA clearly shared our concern and we look forward to a speedy resolution to end what has been a troubling and distressing time for music fans who’ve had bad experiences with the site,” states DCMS Committee chair Damian Collins.

Viagogo and the CMA have also been in court on a separate issue in relation to the use of ‘hover text’, or text that is only visible when the mouse pointer is placed on it, to display the face value of tickets and refund deadlines.

A hearing took place on 18 June and the CMA is now awaiting the outcome.

Viagogo is locking horns with competition authorities across the world, with varying results. The Italian Competition Authority, AGCM, recently returned a €1 million fine to the resale site, after a court rejected claims of non-compliance.

 


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