MPs have warned music fans to avoid using controversial secondary ticketing site Viagogo until it “fully complies with consumer law”.
In a new report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, MP and committee chairman Damian Collins said the “highly unusual step” of advising consumers to avoid the site is the best option until it is considered to be fully compliant with consumer law.
The report also says that Viagogo has “caused distress for too many music fans for too long”.
It places fresh pressure on the ticketing site, which has been previously been accused of swindling Ed Sheeran fans and failing to provide crucial information about tickets, such as re-sale restrictions that could lead to buyers being turned away.
In the new report, MPs said that Viagogo and other secondary ticketing platforms had “caused distress for too many music fans for too long”.
“We regret that such time and public money is being spent on bringing the platforms, principally Viagogo, into line with consumer law that they should have complied with from the outset,” the report stated.
“We believe that Viagogo has yet to prove itself a trustworthy operator given its history of resisting compliance, court orders and parliamentary scrutiny, and flouting consumer law.”
The committee also criticised Google for hosting Viagogo adverts, which allegedly breached UK law.
“It is time for companies such as Google to take more responsibility and act against such advertising, or else be considered to be knowingly making money out of fraudulent selling,” the report stated.
Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, an ardent campaigner against ticket touting, said: “I hope that the government will respond positively to the report, particularly to the recommendations about reviewing the effectiveness of current regulations, and act appropriately if they are found to be ineffective.”
Music industry group FanFair Alliance have also called on Google to remove Viagogo adverts and said its website should be subject to a temporary block, amid an ongoing contempt of court case, filed by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which accuses the site of breaching a court order that was designed to protect fans.
“If a restaurant poses a risk to public health, we expect inspectors to close it immediately on grounds of consumer protection,” they said. “Unfortunately, such powers of enforcement are seemingly absent when it comes to online ticket touting.”
Responding to the report, a spokesperson for Viagogo said they offered an “invaluable service”.
“We are disappointed that the DCMS have singled us out particularly, when hundreds of thousands of British citizens use our service to buy and sell tickets to their favourite live events every day and never experience any problems,” a spokesperson said.
“We provide an invaluable service to UK consumers by giving them access to events in the UK and all over the world.
“For those transactions that fall into the 1% annually where customers do have an issue, the overwhelming majority of cases are due to the unfair and potentially illegal restrictions the event organisers pose simply because customers have chosen to purchase tickets from a competitor of theirs.
“We have been complying and will absolutely continue to work constructively with the CMA to make further amends where necessary, all the while putting all of the buyers and sellers who use the platform first.”
Last year saw the law changed so that ticket touts and secondary ticketing sites will now face ‘unlimited fines’ if they’re caught using bots. This means that it is now a criminal offence to use automated technology to purchase large amounts of tickets in bulk to then be sold on at inflated prices.