Ticket reseller Viagogo fined $7 million over Google ads, booking fees

Ticket reseller Viagogo has copped a $7 million fine for repeatedly misleading Australians about the tickets it would sell them and how much they’d cost.

The Swiss company was found to have breached Australian Consumer Law in April last year by the Federal Court after it “made false or misleading representations and engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public when reselling entertainment, music and live sport event tickets” according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

On Friday Justice Stephen Burley ordered the company pay a $7 million penalty.

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Justice Burley also issued an injunction to stop the company continuing the conduct it’s being penalised for and also ordered it participate in a compliance program.

He wasn’t happy with the responses from Viagogo either, which he said gave it “the appearance of being a company that is indifferent to the interests of Australian consumers and which prefers to elevate its own profit motives above those interests, even when on notice of the potential for harm being done”.

Viagogo was also forced to pay the ACCC’s costs.

Chief on the ACCC’s list of complaints was the use of the word “official” on Google advertisements taken out in 2017 by Viagogo, which made it look like it was the place to get tickets rather than a reseller of them.

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The consumer watchdog also took issue with statements like “only a few tickets left”, which deceived customers into thinking there were few tickets left for an event when in reality Viagogo only had a few to sell.

“Viagogo’s claims misled consumers into buying tickets by including claims like ‘less than 1 per cent tickets remaining’ to create a false sense of urgency,” ACCC chair Rod Sims said following the court’s finding last year.

“Extraordinarily high” booking fees of 27.6 per cent that caught out “many consumers” also raised Mr Sims ire.

“Viagogo’s business practices were unacceptable,” he said.

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