The UK’s competition regulator is calling for ticket resale website Viagogo to be found in contempt of court, after the firm allegedly ignored several warnings to comply with consumer law.
A “letter before action” has been sent to Viagogo by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), marking the start of a process that the regulator previously warned would happen unless the firm improved their widely derided practices.
If Viagogo is found in contempt of court, the company faces substantial fines and its directors risk prison sentences.
In November last year, the CMA obtained a court order to demand that Viagogo cleaned up its practices to ensure full legal compliance to protect consumers.
Despite a deadline of mid-January for the changes, the CMA said today that it was still in breach of several terms of the order.
The regulator said that Viagogo was still failing to sufficiently warn ticket buyers that they might be rejected from events where a venue or promoter has banned the resale of tickets.
We’re going to take further legal action against viagogo.
This follows our repeated warnings that the site has failed to fully comply with a court order we secured.
— Competition & Markets Authority (@CMAgovUK) July 4, 2019
Seat numbers also reportedly failing to appear on ticket listings – despite a requirement to do so under consumer protection regulations.
While the CMA has forced Viagogo to print the names of touts who sell more than 100 tickets on the site, it happens only after credit card details have been entered. The names and addresses of sellers are also often incomplete.
“I welcome the decision by the Competition and Markets Authority to pursue further legal action against Viagogo,” said Damian Collins, chair of the Digital Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “When we published our Live Music report in March, the DCMS Committee took the highly unusual step of issuing a warning to the public against using the site until it had complied fully with consumer law and we called for the CMA to act to bring Viagogo into line.
“The CMA clearly shared our concern and we look forward to a speedy resolution to end what has been a troubling and distressing time for music fans who’ve had bad experiences with the site.”
While the CMA said that action was taken after “not enough”change, it has also been confirmed that some £400,000 has been so far secured for people who bought tickets through the site.
Back in March, MPs warned music fans to avoid using Viagogo until it “fully complies with consumer law” – in a report claming that the secondary site “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.”