19 Jul 2019

Google suspends ticket site Viagogo from advertising

8:39 am on 19 July 2019

Google has suspended Viagogo from its paid spot at the top of its search results after claims touts resell tickets at inflated prices on the site.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Google said in a statement it wanted people buying tickets on its platform to have an experience they could trust. "This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach", the statement said.

In response, Viagogo said: "We were extremely surprised to learn of Google's concerns today. We are confident that there has been no breach of Google's policies and look forward to working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible."

New Zealand's Commerce Commission is one of several regulators around the world taking court action against Viagogo, which is based in Switzerland.

The commission has accused Viagogo of misleading customers over ticket guarantees and buyers have complained of fake tickets.

Last year the commission received 557 complaints about the company - a record number about a single trader in one year.

The commission attempted to get an injunction against Viagogo to stop what it said were breaches of the Fair Trade Act, but the High Court turned it down saying it didn't have jurisdiction. The commission has appealed against the decision.

The Australian Federal Court in April found Viagogo guilty of misleading Australian consumers.

Court action in Britain

Britain's Competition and Market Authority (CMA) is also taking the ticketing website to court, alleging it has not done enough to change its business practices.

It initially launched legal action against Viagogo in August last year, over concerns it was breaking consumer-protection law.

As a result, a court ordered the company to overhaul the way it did business, including telling buyers which seat they would get and whether there was a risk they would be turned away at the door.

Now, the CMA alleges that Viagogo is ignoring its demands to make changes and plans to launch legal proceedings for contempt of court.

It claims Viagogo is still giving misleading ticket-availability messages, incomplete addresses of businesses selling tickets and insufficient warning tickets with resale restrictions may not allow entry.

If found in contempt, the company could face high fines.

FanFair Alliance, a music industry campaign group, said: "We are delighted Google has finally acted and suspended Viagogo's advertising. We now hope other platforms, particularly Facebook, can follow its example."

The UK's Football Association, the trade body UK Music and some MPs signed an open letter to senior Google executives, urging it to stop Viagogo from advertising.