In the recent case of ACCC v viagogo AG  FCA 544 (18 April 2019), the Federal Court of Australia (the "Court") has found viagogo has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by acting in a way liable to mislead the public when reselling entertainment, music and live sport event tickets, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (the “ACL” – contained in Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)). See our previous TimeBase article on this topic for more background to the case.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (the “ACCC”) pursued the Swiss-based ticket reseller for its practices when selling tickets to music, sport and theatre events - which have also been the subject of overseas customer complaints, industry backlash and court action.
Complaints on online review sites and dedicated Facebook groups included that customers believed it to be the official ticket seller due to its top position in Google search results, felt rushed to purchase for fear of missing out on the tickets, and only later realised they may have paid well above the original ticket price.
The Court found that from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, viagogo misled consumers by using the word "official" in its Google advertisements – see [para 3] of the judgment where Burley J noted:
Thereveals the ACCC received approximately 3,500 complaints about the ticket reseller since initially launching Court proceedings in 2017. One incident of over-charging was revealed where the website was found to be selling tickets for one artist to fans at more than three times the price.
The Court found that viagogo’s website claims drew consumers in with a headline price but failed to sufficiently disclose additional fees or specify a single price for tickets. The additional fees could include a 27.6 percent booking fee which applied to most tickets.
In his judgment, Burley J noted at [para 130]:
ACCC Chair Rod Sims commented in a:
notes that following the judgment, viagogo issued a statement:
The Court will determine penalties and orders against the company at a later date.
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ACCC v viagogo AG  FCA 544 (18 April 2019)
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