Viagogo has been ordered to stop advertising all tickets as being valid for entry, and make clear any restrictions, by a German judge
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The Consumer Protection Foundation of German-speaking Switzerland is filing a criminal complaint after being able to buy tickets for events that have already been axed
By Jon Chapple on 07 Apr 2021
Switzerland’s Consumer Protection Foundation is taking legal action against Viagogo for allegedly selling tickets to events it is clear will not go ahead.
The secondary ticketing marketplace, which is headquartered in Geneva, has taken advantage of “the chaos of uncoordinated, pandemic-related lockdowns” across the world to “systematically” sell tickets for events that it knows will not take place, alleges the Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz of German-speaking Switzerland.
To test its theory, in mid-January Stiftung bought two tickets from Viagogo: One for a comedy show by Stéphanie Berger at the Kofmehl venue in Solothurn and another for a “concert by two Dutch musicians” in Amsterdam, taking place in mid-February and mid-March, respectively. Both events had already been cancelled at the time of the ticket purchase.
Viagogo denies the charges, saying in a statement that if tickets for cancelled events are offered for sale, “it is a mistake”. Anyone who has purchased tickets for a cancelled show is entitled to a full refund, the company adds.
“From our point of view, this is a fraudulent business model”
Announcing the filing of a criminal complaint, the Consumer Protection Foundation claims Viagogo is “shamelessly exploiting” confusion over country-specific restrictions on live events. “Consumers can hardly check whether these are actually taking place due to local requirements, especially at events abroad,” it says in a statement.
Sara Stalder (pictured), the foundation’s managing director, says that by selling tickets for events that are not taking place, Viagogo has violated Swiss legislation against unfair competition. “This law says that a company may not offer products that are not in stock,” she explains. “From our point of view, this is a fraudulent business model – and we are curious to see what the judiciary will say about it.”
Writing for IQ last month, Adam Webb of anti-ticket touting group FanFair Alliance discussed media reports in the UK that alleged Viagogo is reliant on speculative selling, and that much of the ticket inventory on the site “doesn’t actually exist”. Viagogo disputes the claims, saying it has “has strict measures in place to ensure the accuracy and compliance of listings and to prevent fraudulent selling”.
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