5 Mar 2020

Viagogo makes last-minute legal retreat against Commerce Commission

5:24 pm on 5 March 2020

Controversial ticket re-sell site Viagogo has backed down in a long-running legal stoush with the Commerce Commission just one day before it was due to go to court.

LONDON, UK - JANUARY 8TH 2018: The homepage of the official website for Viagogo - the online ticket marketplace for ticket resale, on 8th January 2018.

Photo: 123RF

The Commission had sought an interim injunction against the Swiss-based company, alleging Viagogo was misrepresenting the price and availability of tickets, and the "guarantees" attached to tickets.

The interim hearing was set down for Friday 6 March in the High Court at Auckland.

The Commission's general counsel, Consumer and Competition, Mary-Anne Borrowdale said Viagogo - which had argued it was not subject to New Zealand law - has now agreed to submit to the court, and has also made changes to its website.

"Importantly, Viagogo has given undertakings to the Court that it will not undo those changes or make new, similar representations," she said.

"We consider that these changes and undertakings achieve what we sought in our interim injunction application and mean we can avoid the time and cost of another hearing and advance our preparations towards the full case hearing."

Viagogo has also said it will take reasonable steps to ensure that the phrases "All tickets 100% guaranteed!" or "100% guaranteed" will not appear in Google search results.

"Until now Viagogo has said it is not answerable to the Courts here, which has led to considerable expense and delay for the Commission. We think a company that sells New Zealand event tickets to New Zealand consumers should fall under New Zealand law, and we are pleased that Viagogo now accepts that too."

Viagogo's contract previously included an unlawful term that stated all disputes brought by a consumer must be heard in Swiss courts under Swiss law, but Viagogo could choose to take court action against consumers in the consumer's own country.

Borrowdale said while tomorrow's hearing had been cancelled, the main case against Viagogo continued, relating to matters first raised in 2018.

The Commission claims Viagogo made false or misleading representations:

  • That it was an "official" seller, when it was not
  • That tickets were limited or about to sell out
  • That consumers were "guaranteed" to receive valid tickets for their event
  • About the price of tickets, when its 'headline' prices were unobtainable because of the addition of GST and various fees.

Borrowdale said the Commerce Commission still urged ticket buyers to purchase from official ticket websites.

"Avoid clicking on the first internet search result you see for an event. Scroll down the page and find the official ticket outlet or, if you aren't sure, visit the artist's or organiser's website to find out who is the official ticket seller."

The Commerce Commission has received 1198 complaints about Viagogo to date, the most complaints against a single trader.

In July last year, Google suspended Viagogo from its paid spot at the top of its search results after claims touts resell tickets at inflated prices on the site.

Viagogo also faces court or enforcement action in Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Britain and Australia. It has been fined in Italy and sued by football's international governing body, FIFA.

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