You may have recently heard the word ‘Viagogo’ bandied around, popping up in the news multiple times in the last few weeks and making politicians huff about consumer rights and the importance of voting with your feet. After all, it’s sometimes the only way to get a business, and their unscrupulous activities, to stop, sit up, and take notice.
But let’s rewind a moment…
What is Viagogo?
Viagogo – just trips right off the tongue, doesn’t it? – is an online seller, and reseller, of gig tickets. So, if you’re on an online look-out for cheap concert tickets, then chances are that Viagogo, alongside StubHub, SeatWave and Get Me In, will be high on your list.
So, what’s all the fuss about?
This is a classic consumer rights case. See, Viagogo is taking a cut on every ticket sold via its platform – but it’s also not telling you, and other customers, about the potential risk when buying from the site. Ultimately, it’s you who literally pays the price, and you could risk being left short-changed and empty-handed.
Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) highlighted several problems with the business practices of resale ticket vendors. Among other things, the CMA stated that customers should be informed of where they’ll be seated at venues; who is selling the tickets; and whether there are any ticket restrictions that could see punters turned away from events.
Once the report was published, the CMA said:
‘We are putting our concerns to these websites and will be requiring the changes necessary to tackle them. We will use the full range of our powers to get the right outcome for these sites’ customers – including taking action through the courts if needed.’
Unlike its three main rivals, Viagogo has so far refused to comply with the CMA’s demands. And that’s what’s led the current brouhaha between the company and government ministers.
To make matters worse, the company was also found to have broken the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) rules on fees. In other words, the company has been misleading customers with how much they have to pay to get their musical paws on gig tickets.
And what does the Government have to say about Viagogo?
It’s worth bearing in mind that Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has already went on record stating:
‘I personally know that unless it radically changes I would never buy tickets from Viagogo, and would caution anybody now if they are looking at secondary ticketing sales not to use Viagogo.’
Now, in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, digital minister Margot James warned would-be customers that ‘there are four big choices when you can’t get a ticket for an event from the primary seller and you’ve got to go to a secondary site. There are four choices. Just don’t choose Viagogo. They are the worst.’
‘I think the best thing is for people to be made aware. Especially because they’re based outside of the UK there are limits to what we can do to single them out. They will have to comply with the law in the end, it’s just that the other three big companies have agreed to do so in advance. But we are taking more steps to constrain the activities of secondary ticketing sites to bring them into line, to make sure that users know exactly what the charges are before they click. That’s happening on the three sites as I say – it’s not happening on Viagogo and consumers should vote with their feet.’
So, if you want to see that awesome concert, but don’t want to break the bank, the message from the Government is clear – if you can hear it over the noise of the gig: Take advantage of Viagogo’s immediate competition. Your bank balance will thank you.