ACCC v viagogo AG [2019] FCA 544: Ticket Reseller Engaged In Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

Friday 26 April 2019 @ 2.38 p.m. | Legal Research | Trade & Commerce

In the recent case of ACCC v viagogo AG [2019] 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:

“…  'Buy Now, viagogo Official Site' (the Official Site Representation) contained in sponsored advertisements on Google (viagogo ad) for particular events … The ACCC alleges that taken in the context of the promotion of a particular event these words misleadingly created the impression to consumers that viagogo was the official seller of tickets for the event promoted rather than an online platform for the resale of tickets, and thereby engaged in conduct …”

The Sydney Morning Herald reveals 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.

Findings of the Court

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]:

“ … in my view an ordinary consumer would understand the words ‘Buy Now, viagogo Official Site’ to convey that if the consumer followed the link, he or she would be taken to a website where tickets for the relevant event could be obtained from the official, or authorised vendor. That naturally conveys that the tickets are not second hand or resold tickets, but tickets obtained from an official source or host …”

Comment and Reaction from the ACCC

ACCC Chair Rod Sims commented in a Media Release:

“We urge consumers to only buy tickets from authorised sellers, or they risk their tickets being dishonored at the gates or doors … viagogo was charging extraordinarily high booking fees and many consumers were caught out … Today’s [18 April 2019] Federal Court decision is a reminder to businesses that consumers must be clearly told that there are additional fees associated with a displayed price.”

Comment and Reaction from viagogo

ABC News notes that following the judgment, viagogo issued a statement:

"It does not reflect our current ticketing platform and the many changes we have made. We strongly believe our website is compliant and we will continue to work closely and constructively with the ACCC. We are disappointed that the Chair of the [ACCC] does not support the greater competition that viagogo and other ticket resellers bring to the market which provides greater choice for Australians consumers."

The Court will determine penalties and orders against the company at a later date.

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