Viagogo threatened with fresh court action

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Ticket reseller Viagogo has been threatened with another court appearance by Britain’s competition watchdog and could face a large fine.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) took Viagogo to court last year for breaking consumer protection law.

The ticket seller was given a deadline of 17 January to comply with a series of changes, but the CMA said it still had “serious concerns” about the site.

Geneva-based Viagogo told the BBC: “We are compliant”.

Court order

The CMA launched legal proceedings against ticketing websites last August over concerns that they were breaking consumer protection law.

As a result Viagogo – along with rival second-hand ticket sellers StubHub and Ticketmaster – were ordered in November to change the way they run their websites.

The court made a legally binding order instructing the websites to comply with the law by:

  • telling purchasers of tickets if there is a risk that they will be turned away at the door
  • informing customers which seat in the venue they will get
  • providing information about who is selling the ticket, so people can benefit from enhanced legal rights when buying from a business
  • not giving misleading information about the availability and popularity of tickets – which had the potential to lead to customers being rushed into making a buying decision or making the wrong choice
  • making it easy for people to get their money back under Viagogo’s guarantee when things go wrong
  • preventing the sale of tickets a seller does not own and may not be able to supply

‘Severe penalties’

As of midnight on 17 January, the websites were required to have overhauled their processes to improve information about tickets listed for resale.

The CMA said that following the deadline, it would do “a comprehensive review of the changes each website has made”.

Following its initial checks, the CMA said that it had “serious concerns that Viagogo has not complied with important aspects of the court order we secured against them”.

“We have told Viagogo we expect them to make the necessary changes without delay. If they do not, we will go back to court to force them to do so.”

It added: “Severe penalties are available if they are found to be in contempt of court.”

Last year, the Digital Minister, Margot James, told the BBC that if fans had to use a secondary site to buy tickets, “don’t choose Viagogo – they are the worst”.

She was speaking after the Advertising Standards Authority referred Viagogo to National Trading Standards to investigate.

The ASA had accused Viagogo of breaking UK advertising rules by failing to make additional fees clear.