New Zealanders are being warned yet again about notorious website Viagogo, which currently lists tickets to the Great Moscow Circus at greatly inflated prices.
A major local ticket retailer has labelled the Switzerland-based company's practice as "extortionate" and accused it of "ripping off" Kiwis, but Viagogo argues it's doing nothing wrong.
The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the live entertainment industry internationally with Aotearoa now one of the few places on Earth able to safely hold mass gatherings - which apparently makes the country a prime target for global ticket scalpers.
Iticket is the official ticket seller for The Great Moscow Circus, which is currently touring the North Island. The company has hit out at Viagogo with serious allegations about scalped tickets which they claim have dramatically ramped up over the past week.
Iticket director Reece Preston says there's been "an increase in complaints and customers being ripped off to the tune of hundreds of dollars each by Viagogo".
He says people using Viagogo to resell tickets to The Great Moscow Circus "are all non-NZ based", suggesting they never intended to attend the show - as border restrictions remain in place - and only bought the tickets to make a profit.
Weber Brothers director Marie Weber labelled the "highly unethical practice" a "sophisticated international ticketing scam" that is "extremely frustrating".
But Viagogo insists it's doing nothing wrong as an online ticket marketplace.
"Ticket prices are set by the seller and where demand is high and tickets are limited, prices increase. Tickets that are listed at unreasonable prices tend to get the most media attention but rarely, if ever, sell," the company told Newshub.
"We always take the time to listen to feedback from our customers, regulators and other key players all over the world, and have made many changes over the past year to improve customer experience.
"We are keen to work with event organisers and rights owners wherever possible to provide an open and transparent platform for customers to access the widest possible selection of tickets to events of their choice - which we believe should be the ultimate goal of everyone in the industry."
One way people end up buying tickets through Viagogo is by searching for tickets online, rather than going directly to the official ticketing retailer.
A search for "The Great Moscow Circus tickets" conducted at Newshub's Auckland office on August 5 results in a paid Google advert for Viagogo's website above Iticket's website and the event's own official website.
Last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced her government had a plan to crack down on ticket scalping.
"Consumers aren't getting a fair deal… we are going to do something about it," she said in March, 2019.
Those comments followed the New Zealand Commerce Commission initiating proceedings against Viagogo in August, 2018.
Viagogo faces court or enforcement action in Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the UK and Australia.
But New Zealanders continue to buy tickets to local events through Viagogo, including circus tickets that cost more than double their original price.