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New Zealand Commerce Commission begins legal proceedings against Viagogo

By | Published on Thursday 16 August 2018


The Commerce Commission in New Zealand has announced it is launching legal proceedings against the ever-controversial secondary ticketing platform Viagogo in the country’s high court.

The Swiss company has been criticised by regulators in multiple countries for misleading consumers who buy tickets at hiked up prices off touts on its platform, and for being particularly shoddy when it comes to dealing with customer complaints.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission went legal over its concerns with the ticket resale firm last year. The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority also talked about taking action in the courts back in April, after confirming that Viagogo had failed to address various issues that the regulator had formally raised.

New Zealand’s Commerce Commission launched an investigation into Viagogo’s operations after receiving a plethora of complaints about the company from consumers. It then publicly criticised the firm in March when there was a flurry of media coverage about fans who bought tickets from Viagogo being turned away from a Bruno Mars concert in the country.

Back then the regulator said: “The Commerce Commission is advising consumers to seriously consider whether buying tickets from ticket reselling website Viagogo is worth the risk after the latest series of complaints”.

Confirming that it was now going legal, the Commission said yesterday that it was seeking court “declarations that Viagogo has breached the [Fair Trading Act], an injunction restraining it from further breaches and corrective advertising orders”. It also published a specific gripe list which echoes the concerns raised by regulators in Australia and the UK.

That includes Viagogo’s use of the word “official” when it is not – in fact – an official seller; its use of the word “guarantee”, which implies guaranteed entry when it actually means refunds are available if and when tickets prove to be invalid; the site telling people tickets are ‘limited’ or ‘about to sell out’ when it only knows about availability on its own platform; and the customary confusing information about pricing which often misses out the firm’s own sizable fees.

In addition to these “false or misleading representations”, the Commission says that Viagogo’s contract with buyers also includes an unfair term. “The term states that all disputes brought by a consumer must be heard in Swiss courts under Swiss law”, it says. “But Viagogo can choose to take court action against consumers in the consumer’s own country”.

Commenting on its planned legal action in the high court, the Commission’s Head Of Consumer Stuart Wallace said yesterday: “We acknowledge that this has been a longstanding investigation, and in large measure that is because of the complexity of pursuing a case against an online trader based offshore. We are pleased to have progressed matters to the point where we are now able to launch proceedings”.