Viagogo: MPs warn live music fans not to use ticket reselling site

Company has demonstrated ‘disdain for not only the legislative process, but its customers’

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 19 March 2019 08:40 GMT
Firm has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator, MPs say
Firm has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator, MPs say (Alamy)

MPs have warned live music fans against using secondary ticketing site Viagogo until it “fully complies with consumer law”.

In a new report the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee said Viagogo had “caused distress for too many music fans for too long”.

MPs said that the company has shown an “unwillingness to appear before the committee and provide oral evidence” and that it has demonstrated “disdain for not only the legislative process, but its customers”.

The DCMS committee therefore took the “highly unusual step” of warning the public not to use a company’s services.

Viagogo was handed a court order in November demanding that it provide accurate and upfront information about the tickets sold on its website.

Under the order, Viagogo must tell customers if there is a risk that they will be turned away from a venue, and make it clear which seat in the venue they will get, among a host of other requirements.

The DCMS committee’s latest criticism comes just two weeks after the competition watchdog said issues remained around Viagogo’s business practices and that the company had not complied with the court order.

The CMA said it was preparing to take further legal action against Viagogo.

The company has said it does not think it has breached the order.

The DCMS report looked at the economic, cultural and social benefits of live music in the UK. Of 80 evidence submissions to its inquiry, close to two-thirds related to ticket abuse.

The committee said it notes the significant progress by enforcement agencies in “bringing a number of secondary resale platforms into line with consumer law following actions by the CMA and the Advertising Standards Authority, as well as changes within the industry itself to limit the resale of tickets for profit”.

But it called for more action from the government. MPs said in a statement: “We believe that Viagogo has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator given its history of resisting compliance, court orders and parliamentary scrutiny, and flouting consumer law.

“We are concerned that while that work takes place, consumers remain vulnerable to the site’s misleading sales practices. It is imperative that the CMA acts promptly and decisively to bring Viagogo into line with consumer law and, until it does so, we advise the public not to buy or sell tickets via Viagogo.”

Committee chairman Damian Collins said that, despite a “boom in live music” in the UK, it is also facing “stark challenges”, with “bad experiences with ticket resale platforms damaging trust in the industry”.

He said: “We’re calling on the government to review the effectiveness of the law intended to prevent consumers being ripped off when buying tickets for live concerts.

“The government shouldn’t rely on the work of voluntary groups to take on the giants in the ticket resale market but make sure there is effective action to end exploitation, and greater transparency and redress for ticket buyers when things go wrong.

“The DCMS committee has taken today the highly unusual step of issuing a warning to the public against using a major secondary ticketing site until it complies fully with consumer law.”

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A spokesperson for Viagogo said it was disappointed to have been singled out and claimed that it provided an “invaluable service”.

“Hundreds of thousands of British citizens use our service to buy and sell tickets to their favourite live events every day and never experience any problems,” the firm said.

“For those transactions that fall into the 1 per cent annually where customers do have an issue, the overwhelming majority of cases are due to the unfair and potentially illegal restrictions the event organisers pose simply because customers have chosen to purchase tickets from a competitor of theirs.

“We have been complying and will absolutely continue to work constructively with the CMA to make further amends where necessary, all the while putting all of the buyers and sellers who use the platform first.”

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