The Fight Against Ticket Scalping In Australia Has Just Had A Massive Win
And Viagogo - enemies of Gang of Youths, not to mention most of the Australian music industry - were just served a massive blow.
Ticket reseller Viagogo — long a source of ire within Australia’s music industry — has had a setback today, with the Australian Federal Court determining that it had breached consumer law on several accounts.
Viagogo is an international company that bills itself as “the world’s largest secondary marketplace for tickets to live events”, covering concerts, festivals, sporting and theatre events.
Across the world, they’ve come under fire for the (user-set) inflated ticket costs, having no verification process for tickets, and misrepresenting themselves as an ‘official’ ticket seller — despite legally having no more responsibility than Gumtree or Facebook would if you bought a fake ticket on their site.
Last year, Music Junkee spoke to several figures in Australia’s live music industry who all expressed dismay over Viagogo and their practices. Jess Krishnaswamy, co-founder of touring company BBE and FOMO Festival, told Music Junkee that the false tickets were one of the biggest issues they had with putting on events.
“We had probably 500 to 800 kids turn up on the day who had paid in excess of $400 for fake FOMO tickets, or for a FOMO ticket that someone had already used,” she told Music Junkee.
Krishnaswamy also said that BBE and FOMO dealt with around 2,000 inquiries about fake tickets during the 2018 tour — around 5 to 10 percent of the total number of available tickets.
Today, the Federal Court determined that Viagogo mislead consumers by using the word ‘official’, and also by including false claims on their site about events having “less than 1 per cent of tickets remaining”, which creates an unwarranted frenzy of punters.
They were also found to have not presented their “extraordinarily high booking fees” upfront during May and June 2017, where fees could add a 27.6 per cent additional cost to tickets.
Last year, Peking Duk, The Rubens and Gang of Youths all spoke out against Viagogo ‘cheating’ their fans, with the latter even asking fans to help “eradicate” the business from Australia.
Penalties and orders against Viagogo will be announced by the Federal Court at a later date.
The ACCC, the government body for consumers, first filed a complain against Viagogo in 2017, though they’re far from the only company who have been criticised for helping hike ticket prices.
Last year, tickets for Childish Gambino’s (eventually cancelled) tour sold out almost instantly on Ticketmaster, soon appearing for up to near $300 above the original price on the site’s resale facility.
UPDATE: Since publication, Viagogo has responded to Music Junkee’s request for a statement. Here is it in full, below.
“We are disappointed by the ruling. It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made. We strongly believe our website is compliant and we will continue to work closely and constructively with the ACCC.
“Our first priority continues to be to provide people with a safe and secure platform to buy or sell sport, music and entertainment tickets, many of which would otherwise not have been available to them due to the limited number that event organisers release to the box office.
“Without services like Viagogo, people would be forced to return to buying and selling tickets outside venues, or to use informal social media platforms where no customer protection exists. We don’t believe anyone should have to take that risk.
“We are disappointed that the Chair of the Commission does not support the greater competition that Viagogo and other ticket resellers bring to the market which provides greater choice for Australians consumers.”