Need to know
- NSW Fair Trading has received 36 Viagogo complaints since the start of the year
- In recent months, CHOICE has found inflated ticket prices on Viagogo that make a mockery of NSW's ban on ticket scalping
- Consumers who've experienced ticket scalping or other illegal behaviour should lodge a complaint
It's been a long road of shameless consumer abuse for ticket reseller Viagogo.
In 2017, we handed the Swiss company a particularly well-deserved Shonky award, for both ripping off event-goers with inflated ticket prices and making it all but impossible to get in touch and get a refund.
In 2018, NSW made the kind of ticket scalping that is Viagogo's stock in trade illegal, ruling that ticket resellers could charge no more than 10% above the original ticket price.
In 2020, Viagogo copped a $7 million fine in federal court in a case brought by the ACCC.
In 2018, NSW made ticket scalping illegal, ruling that ticket resellers could charge no more than 10% above the original ticket price
"Viagogo misled thousands of consumers into buying tickets at inflated prices when they created a false sense of urgency by suggesting tickets were scarce and when they advertised tickets at a lower price by not including unavoidable fees," ACCC chair Rod Sims said at the time.
(Viagogo has reportedly been granted a temporary reprieve from paying the fine due to the impact of COVID-19 on live events.)
Viagogo has a long and sordid history of flouting regulations and overcharging customers.
Extreme markups still in play
Yet in recent months CHOICE found there was a ticket for a Paul Kelly concert listed for $741 on Viagogo, up from its original price of $90.
And a ticket for '80s band Simple Minds was recently on sale on Viagogo for as much as $1014, when the original ticket prices ranged from $109 to $249.
Clearly the Swiss-based business is not getting the message, or perhaps it's making more money by flouting the rules than it pays in fines.
NSW Fair Trading on the case
This year, with the pandemic still among us, Fair Trading has received 36 complaints about Viagogo. By now, the nature of the complaints would be wearyingly familiar to many Australians. They include:
- exorbitant markups that amount to ticket scalping
- cancelled events that were not refunded
- misleading customers into thinking Viagogo was the authorised original seller
- tickets not being delivered when promised.
Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb says the state's anti-scalping rules did have the desired effect for a while, but it wasn't long before Viagogo was up to its old tricks.
Despite Viagogo being explicitly warned and receiving a $7 million fine from the ACCC in 2020, they continue to flout the rulesFair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb
"We did briefly see a drop off in complaints but then we saw a spike at the end of 2019," Webb says. "When the pandemic hit, complaints obviously dropped off again as events were not able to go ahead."
"However, now that events are back on the agenda, we have seen a spike again and despite Viagogo being explicitly warned and receiving a $7 million fine from the ACCC in 2020, they continue to flout the rules."
"We will be investigating and using our powers to stop any unlawful behaviour," Webb says.
If you've witnessed or experienced ticket scalping in NSW, lodge a complaint with Fair Trading.
Consumers in other states and territories can lodge complaints at their respective consumer protection agencies.
(Update: Viagogo responded to our story shortly after publication.)
Despite the NSW Trading complaints and the instances of ticket scalping we found on its site, Viagogo says it's committed to complying with jurisdictional regulations.
"Viagogo is committed to complying with legislation in all markets we operate in, including NSW, and when we are notified of listings that are not compliant, we act quickly to remove them," a spokesperson said.
"We look forward to continuing to productively engage with regulators to ensure that our website is compliant and the safe and transparent marketplace we offer continues to help customers gain access to events worldwide."