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Ticket reseller investigation

CHOICE says some ticket resale websites can leave you out of pocket and out in the cold

A CHOICE investigation has found  buying tickets from ticket reseller websites Ticketmaster Resale and Viagogo can see you over-paying, having your ticket cancelled by the venue and facing significant fines.

Dodgy pricing practices

"We found Viagogo was the worst offender when it comes to dodgy pricing practices. From dripping in unavoidable fees in its online checkout to incorrectly claiming it has the cheapest tickets on offer, this company needs to clean up its act,"[1] says CHOICE head of media, Tom Godfrey.

CHOICE's investigation revealed Viagogo advertised two tickets to The Avalanches in Sydney for $199 each before dripping in an additional "handling, booking and VAT fee" of $52. 

"By dripping in an unavoidable $52 fee consumers cannot redeem the advertised ticket price of $199. Instead they are slugged a 26% increase, with the total price jumping to $251,"  Mr Godfrey says.

Under Australian Consumer Law companies have to advertise the total price of a product or service. It is illegal to drip in additional fees and charges which result in the advertised price unable to be redeemed.[3] 

Dodgy claims

"If their pricing issues weren't bad enough, the Swiss-based site  markets itself as the 'official' site and claims to provide 'consumer protection'.[4] Both claims are questionable at best and are likely to confuse and disadvantage consumers," says Mr Godfrey.

CHOICE found Viagogo claimed to have the "cheapest" available tickets on sale, however a quick search revealed lower priced options through an official ticket seller.[5]  

"Although Viagogo listed tickets to Adele as the cheapest in Brisbane at $143, we found the official seller, Ticketek, still had $106 tickets left for sale on the same night. Falling victim to this dodgy claim would have seen you pay 35% more than you need to,"[6] Mr Godfrey says.

"We think it's important that consumers have the right to resell legitimate tickets they can't use. But with anti-scalping legislation varying from state-to-state and some venues cancelling resold tickets, it pays to read the fine print before parting with hundreds of dollars."

Mark-ups and possible fines

CHOICE's investigation found purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster Resale could leave consumers holding a cancelled ticket or hit with a large fine. 

"We found Ticketmaster Resale listed VIP tickets to Justin Bieber's concert at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for $2,555, a 374% mark up on the face value of $539, yet Queenslanders face a fine of more than $600 if they buy a resold ticket above 10% of the original price,"[7] says Mr Godfrey.

Anti-scalping legislation in Queensland limits the mark-up on tickets at venues such as Suncorp to no more than 10%, with fines of up to $2,438 handed down to sellers and $609.50 to buyers who break this law.[8]  

"While resale sites might offer refunds to consumers who get caught out if tickets aren't accepted at the venue, in reality getting your money back isn't always easy," Mr Godfrey says. [9]

"Viagogo only gives  you 48 hours to make contact with them if a venue refuses a ticket they've sold you, and with no Australian contact number, you might be on a slippery slope getting in touch with them in Switzerland.[10] 

"Even if you do manage to get the value of your ticket refunded, it's little comfort to people who've spent hundreds of dollars on travel and accommodation to see a one-off gig or sporting event."

CHOICE has referred the findings of the investigation to the ACCC. 

Tips for buying tickets online: 

- Sign up for presale ticket alerts to avoid disappointment 
- Buy tickets directly from the venue or the official ticket seller 
- Check with the venue about resale restrictions before buying a resold ticket 

For more information go to www.choice.com.au

Media contact: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

[1] CHOICE Investigation March 2017 

[2]  Ibid

[3]  https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/online-shopping/drip-pricing

[4]  https://www.google.com.au/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=viagogo&*

[5]  Op. cit. CHOICE Investigation 

[6]  Ibid 

[7] Ibid 

[8] http://www.stadiums.qld.gov.au/Policies/Ticket-Scalping.aspx

[9] http://resale.ticketmaster.com.au/CustomerService

     http://www.viagogo.com/au/landingpage/1044610

[10] http://www.viagogo.com/au/about