March 6, 2020

Latest update on the Viagogo case

After a lengthy legal battle, Viagogo has accepted that New Zealand courts have jurisdiction over it. The Swiss company resells event tickets online and, following numerous consumer complaints, it has been accused of making misleading representations by the Commerce Commission.

Viagogo’s acceptance is unsurprising, given that it sells New Zealand event tickets to New Zealanders in New Zealand dollars and specifically targets New Zealanders through its direct marketing emails and paid-for search results. However, it was a difficult road with Viagogo’s acceptance coming just one day before the company was due in court to argue its position.

And it’s not over yet. The Commerce Commission will continue its proceedings under the Fair Trading Act against Viagogo for making claims:

  • that it was an "official" ticket seller, when it was not;
  • that tickets were scarce and about to sell out, when that was not the case;
  • that consumers were "guaranteed" to receive valid tickets for their event; and
  • about the price of tickets, when its headline prices were unobtainable because of hidden GST and other fees.

In the meantime, Viagogo has updated its website to address the Commerce Commission’s concerns, and given undertakings that it will not undo those changes or make similar representations going forward.

While it’s a step in the right direction for New Zealand consumers, it’s taken around six years of consumer complaints and significant public funds to get there. The frustration is echoed by other international regulators who have struggled to enforce laws against overseas-owned entities who dabble in their markets and then claim that the online services are ‘occurring’ elsewhere.

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