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Regulator begins contempt of court proceedings against Viagogo

By | Published on Friday 5 July 2019

Viagogo

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority has announced that it is beginning contempt of court proceedings against Viagogo over the ticket resale site’s alleged failure to comply with an injunction issued last November.

Last year’s court order came about because, unlike its competitors in the secondary ticketing market, Viagogo failed to voluntarily commit to meet various demands made by the CMA. The ticket resale firm was given until January to meet those demands, which aimed to ensure that the company fully complied with British consumer rights law.

At various points since then Viagogo has variously stated that it is now compliant with the injunction, that it continues to work with the CMA to address its concerns, and that it hopes to fall in line with UK law “as soon as possible”. The recently chatty Viagogo exec Cris Miller has also started spinning a new line that his company is a young disruptor still learning to adapt, even though the company has been operating since 2006.

In a statement yesterday, the CMA said that – while Viagogo has made various improvements to its site over the last six months – concerns remain. In particular regarding misleading or unclear messaging around ticket availability, seat numbers, seller identity and the fact that a promoter may be allowed to cancel a touted ticket, depending on the terms and conditions of the original sale via a primary ticketing platform.

In its statement, the CMA said that it “has now completed further checks and considered the findings of an independent review of Viagogo’s compliance with the order”. Despite the aforementioned improvements, and the payment of over £400,000 in refunds to people whose claims had previously been wrongly rejected, “these are not enough, in the CMA’s view, to comply fully with the court order. Therefore, the CMA has today notified Viagogo that it will be asking a court to find it in contempt of court”.

The regulator’s CEO Andrea Coscelli added: “It is simply not good enough that Viagogo is continuing to drag its heels by not complying in full with this important court order. We secured the order on behalf of people who use these resale websites and deserve to know the facts before parting with their hard-earned money”.

Having “repeatedly raised concerns” with Viagogo itself, while also instigating an independent review of the site’s changes, he said, “we are very concerned that it still hasn’t done what it was ordered to do. We are now taking the next step in legal action to ask a court to find Viagogo in contempt”.

For its part, Viagogo said in a statement that it was “surprised at the announcement from the CMA today, which we learnt of through their press release, and we deny the allegations that we are in breach of compliance with their regulations”.

It went on: “We have recently completed a third party review which has given us approval that we are reaching compliance with the requirements. We will continue to work closely with the CMA, as we have been for the past year, to ensure we are offering the best possible consumer experience and protections in the UK”.

But the CMA’s announcement regarding contempt proceedings was welcomed by Sharon Hodgson MP, a long-time campaigner against online ticket touting.

“Viagogo have had four years to comply with consumer rights legislation but have always failed to do so”, she said yesterday. “In the process they have ripped off thousands of genuine fans who have been left disappointed, frustrated and out of pocket. It is therefore welcome news that the CMA are now taking Viagogo to court for contempt”.

“I hope that this action will show Viagogo that their parasitical business model will be tolerated no longer”, she added. “Once again, I urge consumers to do their research before they buy from the secondary ticket market and above all: do not buy from Viagogo”.



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