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Viagogo claims it is now compliant with UK regulator’s rules as deadline passes

By | Published on Friday 18 January 2019


Midnight last night was the deadline for secondary ticketing websites Viagogo and StubHub to comply with the demands of the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority, which took action to ensure that the ticket resale platforms were complying with all relevant consumer rights law. We now await word from the CMA as to whether all demands have been met.

The CMA first announced plans in November 2017 to crack down on all the major secondary ticketing sites in the UK, which at that time included Live Nation’s since shutdown GetMeIn! and Seatwave, as well as Viagogo and StubHub. The government agency was responding to calls from critics of rampant online ticket touting for relevant consumer rights laws be properly enforced in the ticket resale domain.

StubHub and Live Nation subsequently committed to voluntarily update their policies and practices to bring them in line with UK law. But champion rule-breaker Viagogo initially resisted making any such commitments, until the CMA secured a court order in November. As the deadline for compliance approached last night, the regulator yesterday published a summary of the changes StubHub and Viagogo had to make.

This included ensuring that buyers are told any seat numbers linked to tickets they are buying; that the name of the seller is published if said seller touts tickets commercially; and that any risks of touted tickets being cancelled by a promoter are clearly stated. Viagogo was also told to stop using misleading messaging and to sort out its notoriously useless refunds system for people who buy tickets via the platform that then fail to get them into a show.

Yesterday morning Viagogo took to its corporate Twitter account to declare that: “Further to the agreement we reached with the CMA we have met the deadline and are now compliant”. Anti-touting campaign FanFair quickly pointed out that Viagogo was – in fact – complying with a court order not an agreement, while others responded to the tweet with various reasons why they felt that the resale site was not actually compliant.

That even included the Fair Ticketing Alliance, the organisation that launched last year to represent ticket touts, though which has also been critical of Viagogo in the past. It tweeted at secondary ticketing firm yesterday: “You are nowhere near compliant. Suggest going back to the CMA undertakings and double checking that”.

If you do a quick browse through the Viagogo site in the UK this morning you will see a bunch of changes that are designed to meet the court order. Though issues do seemingly remain. Commercial level sellers are identified but the required information about them doesn’t seem to be shared. There are some seat numbers, but this information is not being provided on anything like the level of StubHub. And there still seems to be plenty of messaging around the site that is arguably misleading.

Having undertaken its own quick review of changes made on the Viagogo site, the aforementioned FanFair campaign stated: “Although a few minor changes have been implemented, some of which may add even more confusion for consumers, we would be astonished if the site is compliant with the terms of its court order”.

It then added: “FanFair Alliance urges all music fans to avoid Viagogo. Its practices are an affront to audiences, to artists and to the law. We feel the CMA must now step up and take urgent action”.

For its part, the CMA yesterday tweeted back at those who were sceptical of Viagogo’s bold claim that it was compliant with the court order. It said that “following the deadline today there will be a comprehensive independent review of changes made and we will publish the results. If required changes haven’t been made, the CMA won’t hesitate to take action”.

So, as we said, we now await word from the CMA as to whether all demands have been met. With some anticipation.