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Consumer advocates welcome New Zealand High Court ruling that Viagogo breached Fair Trading legislation

Consumer advocates welcome New Zealand High Court ruling that Viagogo breached Fair Trading legislation
May 9, 2024

Consumer protection advocates in New Zealand and internationally have welcomed the ruling in the the High Court in Auckland which found that tactics used by ticket reseller Viagogo had breached the country’s Fair Trading Act.

With the New Zealand Commerce Commission’s legal challenge against Viagogo took six years to reach the current ruling, which is still subject to appeal, pan-European anti-touting campaign FEAT is urging the European Union to ensure that its new Digital Services Act is used to force secondary ticketing platforms to be much more transparent about their operations.

In addition, the UK’s FanFair campaign says an outright ban of for-profit touting is required.

High Court Justice Mary Peters ruled that tactics used by Viagogo to drive sales and induce ticket-buyers to pay inflated for tickets breached the Fair Trading Act because they were likely to mislead people looking to buy tickets to events like concerts and sporting events

Having begun its investigation in 2016, the Commerce Commission first filed legal proceedings against Viagogo in 2018.

The various issues raised by the consumer watchdog echoed complaints made about the secondary ticketing platform - by artists, politicians and consumer rights groups - in multiple other countries. In particular, Viagogo's misleading communications about the status of its ticket sellers, the total price of tickets, and its refunds policy.

Viagogo advised in in 2019 and 2020 that it had made some changes to its platform in New Zealand in order to stop the Commission seeking a preliminary injunction against it, but the core legal action continued, reaching the New Zealand High Court last year.

In its recent ruling, the court concluded that Viagogo did indeed have misleading information on its website. It also needs to update its terms and conditions to allow New Zealand customers to pursue legal complaints through the New Zealand courts. Viagogo's terms previously said legal disputes must be pursued through the Swiss courts, its corporate HQ being in Switzerland. That, the high court ruled, is an “unfair contract term” under the country’s Fair Trading Act.

Welcoming the ruling, the Commission's General Manager for Fair Trading, Vanessa Horne, told reporters “the Commission is aware of a large number of reports from consumers who had purchased event tickets from Viagogo, booked flights and travel to attend the event, only to be turned away at the entrance when they found out for the first time that their tickets weren't authentic. This resulted in significant distress and financial impacts for consumers.”

The regulation of ticket resale varies greatly around the world. In some places for-profit ticket touting is completely prohibited, in other countries platforms like Viagogo are obliged to follow certain rules, especially relating to communications and transparency.

In the EU, anti-scalping campaigners hope that the new Digital Services Act will force Viagogo to be more transparent in all member states.

Viagogo statement
In response to an inquiry from Australasian Leisure Management, Viagogo statement released a statement on Court ruling advising "in 2018, the New Zealand Commerce Commission commenced civil proceedings against Viagogo.

"Following a trial that concluded in March 2023, a decision has now been issued. The findings relate to a combination of historic and more recent conduct.

"Viagogo has made amendments to its platform and remains fully committed to fulfilling all legal obligations and ensuring full compliance – as it does in all markets in which it operates.

"Viagogo is appealing against several aspects of the decision but is taking steps to comply with the decision pending the appeal being heard.

"Given the matter remains before the courts, Viagogo will make no further comment."

Related Articles

8th May 2024 - New Zealand High Court rules against Viagogo in consumer protection case

17th February 2023 - Auckland High Court told 90% of tickets on Viagogo sold by scalpers

3rd September 2022 - Viagogo under investigation as Perth concert tickets offered for resale at double original price

19th May 2022 - Federal Court orders Viagogo to pay $7 million penalty for misleading Australian consumers

30th January 2022 - NSW Government urges consumers to avoid purchasing tickets through Viagogo

11th March 2021 - Federal Court allows Viagogo a reprieve in paying $7 million fine

4th August 2020 - Viagogo defends New Zealand ticket resale practices

3rd August 2020 - iTICKET urges New Zealand ticket buyers to shun Viagogo

5th March 2020 - Viagogo pledges to submit to New Zealand law ahead of Commerce Commission action

16th December 2019 - Live Performance Australia says industry is waiting for Viagogo to communicate

8th October 2019 - Google ban sees decline in Viagogo business activity

4th October 2019 - Court decision allows New Zealand Commerce Commission to continue Viagogo legal action

17th July 2019 - Google suspends Viagogo from paid-for global search results

1st July 2019 - Viagogo claims desire to meet with New Zealand’s Commerce Commission

18th April 2019 - Federal Court finds Viagogo guilty of misleading consumers

20th March 2019 - UK MPs call for Viagogo boycott and changes to ticket scalping laws

12th March 2019 - Viagogo blamed as 200 refused entry to Dunedin concert

19th February 2019 - New Zealand High Court Judge rejects Commerce Commission injunction against Viagogo

6th February 2019 - Commerce Commission describes Viagogo as a ‘marketplace for scalpers and fraudsters’ in Auckland High Court

5th February 2019 - Commerce Commission interim injunction against Viagogo set for New Zealand High Court hearing

12th September 2018 - Viagogo responds to calls for Google AdWords service to reject its resales

15th August 2018 - New Zealand Commerce Commission begins court action against Viagogo

17th March 2018 - Commerce Commission issues warning over buying event tickets through Viagogo

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