Consumer watchdogs around the world warn of Viagogo video

STUFF

One woman who purchased an invalid Bruno Mars ticket says there were at least 10 people in the same boat on Saturday night.

A Harvard University graduate is the man behind controversial ticket reselling website Viagogo which is being used by scalpers as a platform to scam concert-goers around the world.

Viagogo, founded by American businessman Eric Baker in 2005, is being investigated by the Commerce Commission for alleged false and misleading representations, which could breach the Fair Trading Act.

Viagogo is an online platform that is used by people to buy and sell tickets to events and concerts. In New Zealand, many consumers have been left out of pocket, and with fake tickets, to concerts such as Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, Shania Twain and Bruno Mars.

Numerous emails to the Swiss-based company have gone unanswered, however, one response refered back to Viagogo's frequently asked questions section, which does not have information about what victims of scalpers can do.

READ MORE:
Consumer watchdog investigating Viagogo after 'wave of new complaints'
Bruno Mars: Kiwis left out in cold after scalped tickets prove invalid for Auckland show
Consumer NZ says action needed on ticket resellers like Viagogo

Viagogo's website claims it is the world's largest secondary marketplace for tickets to live events.
SCREENSHOT

Viagogo's website claims it is the world's largest secondary marketplace for tickets to live events.

Consumer NZ has previously called for action against Viagogo after it found 89 per cent of complaints about hidden fees related to the company. 

The report said consumer exploitation was rife in online ticket resellers market, especially Viagogo, StubHub, Ticketmaster Resale, GetMeIn and Seatwave.

Commission consumer manager Stuart Wallace said he was seeking legal advice on how consumer laws could be enforced against the Swiss company.

So what is Viagago, who pulls the strings, and what protections do they have in place for consumers?

The boss

Ad Feedback

Eric Baker is described by The Guardian as Viagogo's charismatic, but reclusive, founder and chief executive.

Born to a wealthy business dynasty in Los Angeles, he was educated at Harvard and Stanford, before going on to co-found ticket resale business StubHub with his classmate Jeff Fluhr.

Fluhr, who owned more shares than his partner, parted company with Baker after the pair fell out, but both became multimillionaires when the company was sold to eBay for US$307m (NZ$420m) in 2007, according to The Guardian.

Baker then went on to found Viagogo, as a European version of StubHub and moved to London where he worked out of an expensive apartment in Knightsbridge.

Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf are both investors in Viagogo.
AL BELLO/GETTY IMAGES

Andre Agassi and wife Steffi Graf are both investors in Viagogo.

Baker reportedly owns Viagogo through a company called Pugnacious Endeavors, based in Delaware, the United States state that is "synonymous with financial secrecy".

Viagogo's investors include former tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, investment banker Lord Jacob Rothschild, of the prominent British banking family, and billionaire Bernard Arnault, chief executive of luxury French conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy.

Tears, disappointment, and frustration

The commission received 228 complaints about Viagogo by Tuesday, including claims it was parading as an official ticket seller rather than as a reseller, additional fees were not being adequately disclosed, and consumers were being sold fake tickets.

Some consumers also complained they were not receiving the tickets they bought and were not able to contact Viagogo for a refund. 

RNZ

We continue the discussion about ticket resellers today following the weekend's Bruno Mars concert that saw many people turned away at the door with fake tickets.

One woman, known only as Jody, broke down in tears after finding out the two tickets she had bought to Bruno Mars were invalid. She paid more than $1100 for them on Viagogo and was told they were fake at the concert gates.

Jody claimed at least 10 people discovered their reseller-sourced tickets were invalid.

Meanwhile, Christchurch woman who was burned after buying tickets for her daughter and grandson to an earlier Bruno Mars concert.

And first-time concert-goer Vanessa said she had bought fake tickets to Ed Sheeran's show in Dunedin later this month.

Commerce Commission consumer manager Stuart Wallace says consumers need to have "their eyes wide open" if they buy ...
SUPPLIED

Commerce Commission consumer manager Stuart Wallace says consumers need to have "their eyes wide open" if they buy tickets from Viagogo.

'Don't buy from Viagogo'

That's the advice from Consumer NZ research writer Jessica Wilson.

"Go to the authorised ticket seller instead. It's your best protection against ticket touts," she said.

Wilson's top tip to avoid getting stung was to never click on the top result when searching for tickets online.

"It's likely to be a ticket reseller that has paid to appear at the top of the list," she said.

Also, people should pay for tickets by credit or debit card, because if something went wrong, consumers may be able to get money back, Wilson said.

One woman claims at least 10 people discovered their reseller-sourced tickets for the Bruno Mars concert in Auckland ...
SUPPLIED

One woman claims at least 10 people discovered their reseller-sourced tickets for the Bruno Mars concert in Auckland were invalid.

On Wednesday, the commission renewed its warning, advising consumers to "seriously consider whether buying tickets from ticket reselling website Viagogo is worth the risk".

Consumer manager Stuart Wallace said the watchdog was concerned previous warnings about the risks of ticket resale were not getting through.

"We strongly advise consumers to have their eyes wide open if they are considering buying tickets from Viagogo."

He recommended buying tickets from primary ticker sellers, rather than re-sellers.

Ticket reselling, including at a profit, is generally legal in New Zealand, unless the seller engages in misleading conduct, or the event is covered by the Major Events Management Act, such as the Rugby World Cup 2011 and the Lions Tour 2017.

The fine print

Viagogo, which employs between 200 and 300 staff, says on its website that buyers are guaranteed to receive valid tickets in time for the event.

And in the "rare instance" a problem arises, Viagogo will, at "its sole and absolute discretion", offer replacement tickets at no additional cost, or issue a refund.

However, here are strict time restrictions to make a claim.

Consumer NZ research writer Jessica Wilson has a simple message for consumers: "Don't buy from Viagogo".
STUFF

Consumer NZ research writer Jessica Wilson has a simple message for consumers: "Don't buy from Viagogo".

Buyers who receive genuine tickets must report the issue to Viagogo within 14 days to be covered by its guarantee.

If a problems with tickets is discovered on the day of the event, the customer must contact Viagogo within 48 hours.

Ca-ching!

Viagogo makes its money by taking a cut from the buyer and the seller, according to its website, 

Buyers are forced to pay a service fee on top of the ticket price. This fee disclosed in the check-out process.

Viagogo says the fee covers the cost of maintaining the platform, guaranteeing tickets and providing customer service.

Head of LVMH Bernard Arnault, pictured here with his wife Helene Arnault, is an investor in Viagogo.
PASCAL LE SEGRETAIN/GETTY IMAGES

Head of LVMH Bernard Arnault, pictured here with his wife Helene Arnault, is an investor in Viagogo.

Meanwhile, sellers are also charged a fee to cover the cost of marketing tickets to millions of potential buyers worldwide.

Has Viagogo been banned in other countries?

Complaints against Viagogo have occurred around the world, but the company has not been banned from any country.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has filed a case in the Australian Federal Court accusing the Viagogo of of misleading or deceptive conduct.

Simone Mohr lost $3000 to ticket scalpers after buying Adele tickets from Viagogo.
STUFF

Simone Mohr lost $3000 to ticket scalpers after buying Adele tickets from Viagogo.

However, Google has barred ticket resale companies from claiming to be an "official" source of tickets in Google results.

Google also requires resale platforms to prominently disclose if a ticket price is higher than face value.

Resale sites must also be certified by Google before they can use its search result ranking service.

Tickets to the Celine Dion concerts in New Zealand are also being resold on Viagogo.
SUPPLIED

Tickets to the Celine Dion concerts in New Zealand are also being resold on Viagogo.

Google barred ticket resale companies, such as Viagogo from claiming to be an "official" source of tickets in its search ...
SCREENSHOT

Google barred ticket resale companies, such as Viagogo from claiming to be an "official" source of tickets in its search results.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback