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CMA indicates court action against Viagogo planned

By | Published on Thursday 26 April 2018


The UK Competition & Markets Authority has indicated that it intends to take Viagogo to court for failing to comply with consumer protection laws.

In November last year, the CMA announced plans to crack down on secondary ticketing sites, through the courts if necessary. Yesterday, it announced that StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave had all committed to update their policies in line with the law. Viagogo, however, has not done the same.

The other sites have now promised that they will ensure seat numbers and seller identities are provided on their respective platforms, and that they’ll include warnings that touted tickets might be cancelled by a promoter.

“We welcome the changes already made and new commitments we’ve been given by StubHub, Seatwave and GetMeIn! to improve the information on offer, so that people can better judge whether they’re getting a good deal”, says Michael Grenfell, the CMA’s Executive Director for Enforcement. “But all secondary ticketing websites must play by the rules and treat their customers fairly if anything goes wrong. We take failure to comply with consumer protection law very seriously”.

He continues: “So far Viagogo has failed to address our concerns, and we are determined to ensure they comply with the law. We are prepared to use the full range of our powers to protect customers – including action through the courts”.

As well as its failure to sign up to the commitments made by its rivals, the CMA said that it had other concerns about Viagogo’s practises. Specifically, it making misleading statements about the availability of tickets to rush customers into a decision, issues faced by customers attempting to obtain refunds, and the advertising of tickets for sale that the company does not yet have access to.

Anti- and pro-touting organisations – respectively the FanFair Alliance and the recently launched Fair Ticketing Alliance – have both welcomed the move from the CMA.

FanFair’s Adam Webb said in a statement: “Today’s CMA announcement is vindication for the FanFair Alliance campaign to overhaul the online ticket resale market. UK audiences have been taken for a ride for too long by the biggest secondary platforms and the dedicated touts who fuel their business. They will now be forced to dramatically change their practices and provide proper transparency. This cannot come soon enough”.

“It is disappointing, though hardly unexpected, that Viagogo continue to flout the law and mislead the British public”, he added. “If they fail to follow their competitors and make similar commitments, then we expect to see prosecution for non-compliance at the earliest opportunity”.

Fair Ticketing Alliance member, Scot Tobias, commented: “The Fair Ticketing Alliance is delighted with the swift action of StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave to improve transparency for customers following action by the Competition & Markets Authority. Undoubtedly, this will improve the experience of live music and entertainment fans using their sites and is precisely in line with what we have been calling for as brokers”.

“It’s disappointing, however, that not all secondary website platforms have followed suit”, he continued. “Our members have stopped listing tickets on certain sites who do not comply with everything set out by the CMA. We urge those sites to do so immediately”.

Viagogo, as ever, has made no comment on the matter.