Viagogo

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viagogo
Private
IndustryE-commerce
FoundedLondon, United Kingdom (2006)
HeadquartersGeneva, Switzerland
Key people
Eric Baker, founder and CEO
ProductsOnline secondary ticketing, online ticket exchange
Websitewww.viagogo.com

Viagogo is an online marketplace for ticket resale. The company, which was founded in London in 2006, has a network of more than 60 global websites with customers in 160 countries. Viagogo is backed by the venture capital investment firm Index Ventures as well as Brent Hoberman, the co-founder and former CEO of lastminute.com and Lord Jacob Rothschild via his family interests.[1] The organisation has faced criticism for inflating ticket prices, and for refusing to work with artists trying to prevent secondary resale.[2] After court action was taken (in August 2018)[3] over concerns that it was breaching consumer protection law, in November 2018 the United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority secured a court order against Viagogo, requiring the site to "overhaul the way it does business by mid-January 2019 in order to comply."[4]

History[edit]

Viagogo was founded in 2006 in London by Eric Baker, the co-founder of US-based StubHub.[5][6] It was established to provide an online marketplace that allows consumers to buy and sell tickets to sports, music, theatre and comedy events. The company's launch included partnerships with Chelsea F.C. and Manchester United F.C. offering season ticket holders the chance to sell tickets to matches they could not attend to other club members, without having to lend their season card.[5][7][8] Manchester United ended its commercial agreement with Viagogo in 2011.[9]

In September 2013 Viagogo launched in Australia.[10][11][12] The launch was accompanied by two new partnerships with Melbourne-based AFL clubs Collingwood FC and Richmond FC.[13] In the same month, research commissioned by Viagogo revealed that Britons had lost £50 million to ticket fraud over the preceding twelve months[14] and 500,000 Australians had been the victims of ticket fraud, with 81% of cases resulting from transactions on eBay and Gumtree.[15]

Business model[edit]

Viagogo sells secondhand tickets. During purchase, one price is shown up front which does not include additional costs such as value-added tax or booking fees.[16]

Buyer web interface[edit]

The customer is presented with several messages about tickets being about to run out and in the user interface, the "continue" button jumps and a timer keeps counting down. According to executive Chris Miller, the messages are intended to show customers they are visiting a "dynamic market place" and helps buyers to "make an informed decision".[16]

During a test where three tickets were purchased, the average transaction took about ten minutes to complete which did not leave time to read the purchase conditions. Once the transactions were completed, the average price paid was about twice that charged by official ticket sellers.[16]

Partnerships[edit]

The company has partnerships with sports properties in football, cricket, rugby, tennis, and wrestling. Under British law, unauthorised re-selling of Premier League and other football tickets is illegal, a restriction introduced by the Government to prevent hooliganism.[17] By working with the Premier League clubs to obtain official authorisation, Viagogo is permitted to resell tickets to the clubs with which it works.

In 2012 Viagogo extended its European ticketing agreement with multiplatform sports media company ESPN.[18]

Viagogo was the official ticket marketplace for the various music festivals in 2013, including the Isle of Wight Festival, the Boyzone 20th Anniversary Tour,[19] the Benicàssim Festival and Weekend Festival. In 2014, Viagogo partnered with SFX Entertainment[20] and in 2015 with the Australian Soundwave festival,[21] Ultra Beach Bali and Ultra Japan. In 2016, Viagogo was announced as the official ticketing partner of Ultra Singapore 2016.[22]

Criticism[edit]

Although Viagogo offers some tickets at face value it is well known for vastly inflating prices for events.[23] They have been accused of trying to manipulate online reviews after hundreds of people complained on Trustpilot that the company had ripped them off.[24] They have also faced criticism after they resold charity tickets to an Ed Sheeran cancer benefit concert at highly inflated prices.[25]

In February 2018, Viagogo was found to have been marketing tickets for a non-existent performance by a Hungarian stand-up comedian for about twice the normal price.[26]

In early 2011, Viagogo sold personalised tickets for Take That's 2011 Progress tour to German customers. Some people were not able to enter the concerts in Hamburg and Munich.[27] A German court banned Viagogo from claiming that the validity of the Take That tickets is “100% guaranteed”.[28]

They were involved in a legal battle with the UK Rugby Football Union (RFU) after they sold tickets which the RFU had forbidden from being resold for profit. Viagogo lost the initial trial and an appeal in the lower courts in December 2011,[29] resulting in the issuing of a Norwich Pharmacal order.

In November 2012, fake tickets to a Mumford & Sons concert in Portsmouth with a face value of £23.50 were sold for up to £200 on Viagogo's secure marketplace. In an interview with the BBC, a spokesperson asserted that this was a rare occurrence and all buyers would soon be offered a refund or tickets to a future concert.[30]

In August 2017 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action against Viagogo with "allegations it made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct by failing to disclose substantial fees included in the price of tickets."[31]

In December 2017, Viagogo were still selling tickets to a Rick Wakeman concert in London, long after the concert had been publicly announced as cancelled.[32]

In 2018 a large number of fake tickets were sold by Viagogo for Bruno Mars at $700 per ticket in Auckland. The New Zealand Commerce Commission are taking Viagogo to court because of several complaints.[33]

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the company in Israel.[34]

The company is the only ticket resale site to have refused to work with Arctic Monkeys and Ed Sheeran to prevent ticket touts reselling tickets for their tours.[2]

In May 2018, the UK's Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Margot James, told BBC Radio 5 Live listeners planning to buy from secondary ticket sites, "don't choose Viagogo - they are the worst".[35] She gave this advice after the Advertising Standards Authority asked National Trading Standards to investigate Viagogo's alleged breaches of UK advertising rules about making any additional fees clear.[35] Viagogo is no longer under investigation by trading standards after complying with the ASA ruling.[36]

In August 2018, the UK Competition and Markets Authority confirmed it would be seeking court action against Viagogo following concerns that it is breaching consumer protection law.[3]

In 2018, the Swedish Consumer Agency received 132 reports about the company, making it the seventh most reported business operating in Sweden. A frequent criticism was that customers felt stressed and pressured into finishing their purchases.[16]

In March 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport warned consumers not to buy or sell tickets through Viagogo.[37]

In July 2019, the UK Competition and Marketing Authority began legal proceedings against Viagogo for contempt of court as a result of the company ignoring repeated warnings to comply with consumer law.[38] Later that month, Google announced that it would no longer permit paid advertising by Viagogo, with a spokesperson stating "When people use [Google] for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust. This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach."[39]

Legal and government actions[edit]

This table lists known legal actions that Viagogo is/has been involved in.

Date Case description Outcome
Nov '18 Hamburg court issues injunction against Viagogo: Rammstein's 2019 European Tour[40]
Sept '18 Viagogo sues Ed Sheeran's promoter Kilimanjaro Live for fraud[41]
May '18 UK Advertising Standards Authority refers its ongoing case against Viagogo to Trading Standards[42]
April '18 Hamburg court issues injunction against Viagogo: 2018 FIFA World Cup[43]
April '18 Viagogo fined one million Euros in Italy[44]
April '18 Viagogo investigated in Spain[44]
Feb '18 Spain opens fraud probe[45]
Jan '18 FIFA obtains preliminary injunction against Viagogo[46]
Dec ‘17 German court bans Viagogo from claiming tickets are guaranteed[47]
Dec ‘17 French Authorities FRC files a complaint against Viagogo in Geneva[48]
Dec ‘17 French authorities order Viagogo to end "deception"[49]
Nov ‘17 UK Competition and Markets Authority builds case against Viagogo[4]
Sept ‘17 Swiss Government builds case against Viagogo[50]
Aug ‘17 Australian Government builds case against Viagogo[51]
Feb ‘17 Viagogo hit by multiple Spanish legal actions[52]
Feb ‘17 Italian Society of Authors and Publishers in legal blitz against Viagogo[53]
Nov ‘17 UK Government (All Party Parliamentary Group) on Ticket Abuse[54]
Nov ‘17 UK Government (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee) Ticket Abuse Inquiry[55]
Nov ‘16 UK Tax Office targets secondary ticket industry[56]
Jul ‘16 UEFA files criminal complaint against Viagogo for illegal ticket sales at Euro 2016[57]
Nov ‘12 UK Rugby Football Union takes legal action over unlawful ticket sales[58]

Legislation[edit]

In the UK, Labour MP Sharon Hodgson's proposal that legislation be introduced to cap resale prices at face value +10% was rejected by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.[59] After the company failed to appear before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee of the UK Parliament in March 2017, Hodgson and fellow committee member Nigel Adams visited its London headquarters the following July, but the party was turned away.[60][61]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "viagogo Raises Over $20MM From Investors Led by Index Ventures". Index Ventures. Archived from the original on 22 December 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b Savage, Mark (22 May 2018). "How Ed Sheeran is tackling ticket touts". BBC News.
  3. ^ a b Johnston, Chris (31 August 2018). "Viagogo taken to High Court by competition regulator". BBC News.
  4. ^ a b "Secondary ticketing websites". gov.uk. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b Auchard, Eric (17 August 2006). "European sports ticket reseller web site unveiled". Reuters. Retrieved 20 August 2006.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Sweney, Mark (18 August 2006). "Clubs launch ticket resale site". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 August 2006.
  7. ^ "Tackling the touts". BBC Manchester. 18 August 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006.
  8. ^ "Ticket exchange: clubs target touts". ITN. 18 August 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2006.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ King, Mark (9 September 2011). "Why can't we sell unused Manchester United season tickets any more?". The Guardian.
  10. ^ "Team ticket to growth for Viagogo". The Australian Financial Review. 17 September 2013.[dead link]
  11. ^ White, Andrew (17 September 2013). "Ticket exchange stresses fairness". The Australian.
  12. ^ "Viagogo Ticket Market Launches in Australia". The Wall Street Journal. 17 September 2013. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013.
  13. ^ Baker, Rosie (18 September 2013). "Viagogo Partners with Melbourne-based AFL clubs". AdNews.
  14. ^ "Ticket scams on the rise, warns new study". Which?. 2 April 2013.
  15. ^ Barwick, Hamish (17 September 2013). "500K Australians scammed by dodgy ticket sellers: survey". Computerworld. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  16. ^ a b c d Moberg, Carl (19 June 2019). "Kritiserade biljettsajten – så kan du luras av Viagogo". Gõteborgs-Posten (in Swedish).
  17. ^ "Q&A: Ticket touting". BBC News. 16 April 2007.
  18. ^ "Viagogo & ESPN Extend Partnership". Sports Industry Group. October 2012.[dead link]
  19. ^ Pakinkis, Tom (26 February 2013). "Viagogo and Giddings link strengthened with Isle of Wight partnership". Music Week.(subscription required)
  20. ^ "LiveStyle, Inc". Investor.sfxii.com. Retrieved 21 March 2017.[failed verification]
  21. ^ Reid, Poppy (27 October 2015). "Exclusive: Soundwave partners with ticket marketplace viagogo". The Music Network. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  22. ^ Lawrence, Jesse (17 January 2016). "High Ticket Demand Expected For ULTRA Singapore 2016". Forbes.
  23. ^ Davies, Rob (23 September 2016). "High prices, low profile – what we know about Viagogo". The Guardian.
  24. ^ Davies, Rob (14 February 2017). "Viagogo accused of sitting on refunds after overcharging for tickets". The Guardian.
  25. ^ Davies, Rob (17 February 2017). "Viagogo condemned over Ed Sheeran cancer benefit concert tickets". The Guardian.
  26. ^ "Fake tickets for Adam Kiss' show". index.hu (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  27. ^ "Viagogo: Hintergründe zu fehlerhaften Take That-Tickets" [Viagogo:Background circumstances about faulty Take That-tickets]. Netzwelt (in German). 5 August 2011. Archived from the original on 24 April 2013. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  28. ^ "Decision by District Court Hamburg" (JPEG). Slideshare.net. Hamburg District Court. 18 July 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2017.[better source needed]
  29. ^ "RFU wins court order to help identify Twickenham ticket touts". The Guardian. 31 March 2011.
  30. ^ "Mumford & Sons fans stung by fake Portsmouth tickets". BBC News. 23 November 2012.
  31. ^ Cormack, Lucy (28 August 2017). "ACCC takes Viagogo to court over alleged consumer law breaches". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  32. ^ "Cancelled & Altered Events". Ticketmaster. Retrieved 5 July 2019.[failed verification]
  33. ^ Nadkarni, Anuja (15 August 2018). "Commerce Commission taking online ticket resale website Viagogo to court". stuff.co.nz.
  34. ^ "together we stand, divided we fall". viagogoclassaction.com. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  35. ^ a b Johnston, Chris (30 May 2018). "Don't buy tickets from Viagogo, minister warns". BBC News.
  36. ^ "ASA secures changes to viagogo's website – misleading pricing information removed and costs now clearly displayed and transparent to consumers". Advertising Standards Authority. 4 September 2018.
  37. ^ Davies, Rob (19 March 2019). "MPs call for Viagogo boycott and shake-up of ticket touting laws". The Guardian.
  38. ^ Davis, Rob (4 July 2019). "Regulator begins contempt of court action against Viagogo". The Guardian.
  39. ^ "Google suspends ticket site Viagogo from advertising". BBC News. 17 July 2019.
  40. ^ Chapple on 22 Nov 2018, Jon (22 November 2018). "Rammstein tour: German court forbids Viagogo resale". IQ magazine.
  41. ^ Smirke, Richard (4 September 2018). "Viagogo Launches Legal Action Against Ed Sheeran Promoter Over Alleged Fraud". Billboard.
  42. ^ "ASA refers viagogo AG to National Trading Standards for misleading advertising". Advertising Standards Authority. 30 May 2018.
  43. ^ Massey, Melissa (17 April 2018). "FIFA World Cup 2018 tickets being listed illegitimately". Which?.
  44. ^ a b Gottfried, Gideon (4 April 2018). "Viagogo Fined One Million Euros In Italy, Investigated In Spain". Pollstar.
  45. ^ "Spain opens fraud probe after online resale of U2 concert tickets for more than €900". El País. 14 February 2018.
  46. ^ "FIFA obtains preliminary injunction against viagogo". FIFA. 19 January 2018.
  47. ^ "0711 decision by district court hamburg". www.slideshare.net. Retrieved 1 August 2018.[better source needed]
  48. ^ "La FRC dépose une plainte contre Viagogo à Genève". Le Temps (in French). 3 October 2017.
  49. ^ Chapple, Jon (7 December 2017). "French authorities order Viagogo to end 'deception'". IQ magazine.
  50. ^ "Civil actions against Luxstyle and Viagogo". State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. Bern. 3 October 2017.
  51. ^ "ACCC takes ticket reseller Viagogo to court". Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 28 August 2017.
  52. ^ Chapple, Jon (22 February 2017). "VIAGOGO HIT BY MULTIPLE SPECULATIVE SELLING SUITS". IQ magazine.
  53. ^ "SIAE IN LEGAL BLITZ AGAINST TOUTS, VIAGOGO". IQ magazine. 20 February 2017.
  54. ^ "News". All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse. 24 April 2014.
  55. ^ "Ticket abuse inquiry". parliament.uk. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  56. ^ Izundu, Chi Chi (30 November 2016). "HMRC targets secondary ticket industry". BBC News.
  57. ^ Davies, Rob (8 July 2016). "Uefa takes action against Viagogo over illegal Euro 2016 ticket sales". The Guardian.
  58. ^ Jones, Rupert (21 November 2012). "Court ruling raises questions over future of ticket resale websites". The Guardian.
  59. ^ "Government may reconsider secondary ticketing legislation – but only if OFT investigation 'demonstrates market failure'". Music Week. 14 March 2012.(subscription required)
  60. ^ Davies, Rob (21 March 2017). "Viagogo snubs MPs' inquiry into online ticket reselling". The Guardian.
  61. ^ Heard, Rupert (20 July 2017). "MPs threatened with arrest after protest at Viagogo office in London". The Guardian.