“Many consumers were caught out”: Australian Federal Court rules in favour of watchdog’s complaint that Viagogo misled customers
Sign up for IQ Index
The latest industry news to your inbox.
An earlier court ruling that found the secondary ticketing platform in breach of consumer law has been upheld alongside a $7m fine
By James Hanley on 18 May 2022
Australia’s full federal court has dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the secondary ticketing platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) instigated legal proceedings against the company in 2017, alleging it had “made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial fees”.
The federal court ruled in favour of the watchdog’s allegations in 2019, finding Viagogo in breach of consumer law, with Justice Stephen Burley noting its conduct was deliberate and that some of its misleading claims were made “on an industrial scale”.
The full court has now upheld the findings along with the AUS$7 million penalty imposed for the breaches of the Australian Consumer Law.
“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller”
“This case was about bad behaviour by an international ticket reseller that deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site,” says ACCC commissioner Liza Carver.
The full court upheld the finding made in 2019 that Viagogo had falsely represented that it was the ‘official’ seller of tickets to particular events. It also upheld the finding made by the primary judge that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, Viagogo’s website drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets, including a 27.6% booking fee which applied to most tickets.
“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price”
“Viagogo misled music lovers, sporting fans and other consumers who were hoping to get tickets to a special event. Consumers were drawn in by a headline price and were often unaware of the significant fees charged by Viagogo until very late in the booking process when they were already invested in attending the event,” says Carver.
The full federal court stated that “had Viagogo made it clear that it was operating a ticket resale site, then there would have been no misapprehension by consumers”.
“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price,” adds Carver.
The court also upheld previous orders made against Viagogo in relation to a compliance programme, publication orders and an injunction.
A spokesperson for Viagogo says: “Viagogo is disappointed with the federal court’s ruling, but we remain committed to continuing to provide choice for consumers to access tickets and attend events.
“The ruling concerns language used in some advertisements and the form of the Viagogo website around five years ago. It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made to provide greater transparency for our customers.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.