Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Ticket website Viagogo singled out by UK government | The Guardian

Digital minister Margot James has urged consumers to boycott ticket website Viagogo, saying they should not buy concert and event tickets from the company.

The minister’s warning – a rare instance of a government minister singling out a specific company for criticism – comes as the Geneva-based company braces for possible sanctions for breaches of advertising rules. These could include having its listings pulled from search engines such as Google.

The Advertising Standards Authority is expected to outline a list of sanctions against Viagogo for persistently breaching the advertising code by failing to be clear about its fees, despite earlier promising to improve transparency.

On Wednesday morning, during a BBC radio interview, James advised anyone planning to buy tickets on resale websites: “Don’t choose Viagogo – they are the worst.”

She issued the advice in the wake of a series of high-profile controversies involving the website run by US multimillionaire Eric Baker, co-founder of the company’s biggest rival StubHub.

Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran recently cancelled 10,000 tickets for his tour because they had been bought through Viagogo.

Sheeran’s promotion company Kilimanjaro Live, among those to file complaints about the company with the ASA, said Viagogo was the only resale firm not to comply with its request not to resell tickets for the artist’s shows.

Earlier this month, the Guardian revealed Viagogo’s involvement in the resale of football tickets in the UK, resulting in fans being overcharged and seated in the wrong end, undermining strict laws on segregation.

The website has also been criticised for withholding refunds from overcharged fans, profiteering from charity events, refusing to attend a select committee hearing and breaching consumer rights laws.

The Competition and Markets Authority, which is in the midst of an investigation into secondary ticketing, singled out the company with a warning that it could face legal action for failing to protect consumers.

Founded by Baker in 2006 after he left StubHub, Viagogo has fast become one of the world’s largest ticketing companies, attracting legions of professional ticket touts using the website to resell tickets harvested in bulk, often at large mark-ups.

The Guardian has approached the company for comment.


No comments: