Viagogo loses court appeal, will be forced to pay $7million penalty for misleading Australian consumers

The ACCC's Liza Carver said the ticket reseller had "deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers"

Ticket resale company Viagogo will be required to pay a $7million penalty for misleading Australian consumers, after an appeal against a previous judgement was thrown out in Federal Court yesterday (May 18).

In 2019, a Federal Court judge found the company – which was founded in London and is headquartered in Switzerland – had breached Australian Consumer Law, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched legal proceedings in 2017.

The court found that Viagogo had falsely represented themselves as the official point of sale for tickets to multiple events. It also found the company “drew consumers in” with a headline price for tickets, but did not adequately disclose significant additional fees they charged on top, including a 27.6% booking fee that applied in many instances.

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The following year, they were fined $7million, with Justice Stephen Burley saying the company’s conduct had been, in some cases, “on an industrial scale”.

On Wednesday, ACCC Commissioner Liza Carver said Viagogo had “deliberately misled thousands of Australian consumers about the price they would have to pay for tickets and falsely represented that those consumers were purchasing tickets from an official site.

She added that the company had “misled music lovers, sporting fans and other consumers who were hoping to get tickets to a special event” by not making their “significant fees” apparent until consumers were late in the booking process.

“Businesses must clearly disclose if they charge additional, unavoidable fees on top of the advertised price,” Carver said.

A representative for Viagogo has since argued that the website had changed their practices significantly in the past five years, saying the ruling does not reflect the company’s “current ticketing platform” or the “many changes we have made to provide greater transparency for our customers”.

Those changes include “providing clearer pricing, ticketing availability and event policy information at all stages of the customer journey”, the spokesperson said, adding that Viagogo would continue working with the ACCC and other regulators.

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Last year, NSW Fair Trading announced they had launched an investigation into Viagogo after receiving dozens of complaints relating to the company, just under half of which accused the platform of ticket scalping, which is prohibited under NSW consumer law.

“Despite Viagogo being explicitly warned and receiving a $7million fine from the ACCC in 2020, they continue to flout the rules,” then-NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb said in a statement at the time.

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