Controversial ticket reseller Viagogo has been fined $7 million for a slew of false and misleading representations on its website against Australian consumers while reselling tickets for live music and sports event.
The Federal Court of Australia handed down the penalty based on earlier findings against the company in 2019.
Viagogo did not state clearly to consumers that it was not an “official” ticket seller for some events.
It also made claims that tickets were scarce, when this was false, and did not disclose booking fees to customers until late in the process. These fees would sometimes increase the ticket price by 27.6 percent, a practice called “drip pricing.”
One example was the sale of tickets for the Book of Morman live theatre production, which was advertised at $135 but ended up selling for $177.45. Tickets to Ashes cricket matches were advertised at $330.15 but sold for $426.81 after fees were added.
Federal Court Justice Stephen Burley condemned Viagogo in his judgement saying their misrepresentations were deliberate and serious. He said one set of representations by Viagogo was carried out on “an industrial scale”.
The judge described Viagogo as “indifferent” to the interests of consumers, preferencing its profits even when it had notice of the investigation and legal action.
The case was brought against Viagogo by Australia’s consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
“Viagogo misled thousands of consumers into buying tickets at inflated prices when they created a false sense of urgency by suggesting tickets were scarce and when they advertised tickets at a lower price by not including unavoidable fees,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“Today’s $7m penalty sends a strong signal to businesses like Viagogo conducting business in Australia that they cannot get away with profiting from misleading Australian consumers…” he added.
The Federal Court also ordered an injunction against Viagogo preventing it from making future misrepresentations regarding the price and availability of tickets. It must also clearly state whether it is an official ticketing agent.
The Court also ordered Viagogo to conduct a compliance program and pay the ACCC’s costs.
Rob Nicholls, associate professor at the University of New South Wales, said the penalties were necessary for a company of Viagogo’s size and online presence.
“In the Australian state of New South Wales, Viagogo has already been the subject of a ‘name and shame’ notice for its activities. NSW Fair Trading issued a warning to consumers not to deal with Viagogo in 2017,” he told The Epoch Times on Oct. 2.
Nicholls also said Viagogo would be closely monitored and any breach could result in contempt proceedings.
Viagogo AG is an online ticket resell platform with headquarters in Switzerland.