Ticket resale website found guilty of ripping off Aussie customers with hidden fees, cancelled events and no refunds

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Ticket seller was ripping off Aussies.

Ticket resale site Viagogo has been found guilty of misleading Australian consumers in the Federal Court Thursday, although no penalty has been handed down yet.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took action against the Switzerland-based company after complaints from hundreds of Aussies ripped-off by heavy ticket price mark-ups, hidden fees, cancelled events and no refunds.

Additional fees included a 27.6 per cent booking fee which applied to most tickets.

The ACCC said in a statement Viagogo misled consumers into buying tickets by including claims like ‘less than 1 per cent tickets remaining’ to create a false sense of urgency.

“We urge consumers to only buy tickets from authorised sellers, or they risk their tickets being dishonoured at the gates or doors,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “Viagogo was charging extraordinarily high booking fees and many consumers were caught out.”

The Court found that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, Viagogo’s website claims drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets.

“Today’s Federal Court decision is a reminder to businesses that consumers must be clearly told that there are additional fees associated with a displayed price,” Sims said.

Viagogo’s managing director Cris Miller in a statement to Business Insider said they were “disappointed by the ruling” as it did not reflect “our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made”.

“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,” he said.

There have been several noted cases where businesses were smacked for their hidden fees. In 2017, Virgin and Jetstar copped fines of $200,000 and $545,000 respectively for not disclosing upfront costs to Aussies.

The Court also found that Viagogo’s use of the word ‘official’ in its online advertisements was misleading.

The ACCC said as a result of this, consumers were misled into thinking they were purchasing tickets from an official site, when in fact Viagogo is a ticket resale website.

In 2017, Fair Trading NSW warned consumers to avoid Viagogo, estimating almost 600 consumers had been ripped off by the platform.

Viagogo has also appeared on Fair Trading’s monthly complaints register eight times between November 2016 and July 2017, and was in the top five most complained about traders on five occasions.

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