On Sunday 27 August, both NSW Fair Trading and the Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath released official statements warning consumers about purchasing from Viagogo, a Swiss-based online platform for reselling tickets.
Matt Kean, Minister for Better Regulation, said that NSW Fair Trading had received 187 complaints and 237 enquiries concerning Viagogo.
“Complaints to date have included delayed delivery, events being cancelled, heavily marked-up prices, hidden fees and failure to provide refunds,” he said. “With most complaints relating to two or more tickets, Fair Trading has estimated around 600 consumers have been ripped off at a cost of almost $130,000 … I’m putting consumers first and that’s why I’m issuing an urgent public warning about Viagogo’s unfair and unsatisfactory business services and practices.”
NSW Fair Trading attempted to contact Viagogo 194 times with minimal response before the official warning was issued. Since then, the platform has agreed to be “more responsive”, as described by Mr Kean.
“However, consumers should read all conditions carefully, and make credit card payments, so they can claim a chargeback if necessary,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Office of Fair Trading reported 49 complaints, 43 of which were received during the past year. “Claims of hidden fees and charges are common,” said Mrs D’Ath. “Consumers also often report not being aware they were dealing with a secondary ticket seller.”
After these warnings, on Monday 28 August, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launched court proceedings against Viagogo. The ACCC has received 473 complaints about the platform this year.
“We allege that Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in the ticket price, including a 27.6 per cent booking fee for most events and a handling fee,” Delia Rickard, deputy chair of the ACCC deputy chair, told the Sydney Morning Herald. “This has caused huge frustration … people see the headline price to start and some don’t even pick up on the extra charges.”