Case against Viagogo case likely to succeed - lawyer

An expert in competition law says the Commerce Commission has a good chance of winning its case against grey-market ticket seller Viagogo.

The Switzerland-based company has been accused of making false or misleading representations that it's an "official" seller, misleading customers about the price of tickets, saying tickets were limited or about to sell out when they weren't, and telling buyers they would receive valid tickets to events.

Veteran lawyer John Land of Bankside Chambers in Auckland says based on what the Commerce Commission has said about the case, there's a good chance Viagogo will be held to account.

"If Viagogo have done what the commissions says they've done, well, that looks like a breach of the Fair Trading Act."

The company is reportedly facing similar battles in Australia, the UK, Spain, France, Germany and its native Switzerland.

Mr Land says if Viagogo wants to keep doing business in New Zealand, it may be forced to take out a corrective advertising campaign, similar to how Ribena maker GlaxoSmithCline was a decade ago when it wrongly claimed the drink contained vitamin C.

"What happened with the Ribena case was orders for half-page ads [in the] Saturday papers, four newspapers around the country, twice; plus the company had to put on their website for 28 days a statement saying what we said about vitamin C in Ribena was not correct. That's exactly the sort of thing the commission will be looking for."

John Land.
John Land. Photo credit: The AM Show

Despite years of adverse publicity, people keep falling for scams on Viagogo. Not even warnings from the artists themselves have worked. Singers as big as Ed Sheeran and James Blunt have spoken out against Viagogo, warning fans to stay away and only buy tickets from official channels.

"Viagogo is a classic case of someone who is actually a ticket reseller rather than direct from the source, and therefore their prices are huge, Blunt told The Project in March, ahead of his gig at Spark Arena.

"The more we can clamp down on that, the better for honest concert-going punters."

Mr Land said he expects Viagogo to comply with any court orders, should the Commerce Commission win the case, otherwise it'll end up banned from New Zealand.

He's used the site once before, and had no problems - but will think twice about using it again, considering what's happened to others.

"If… something went wrong, I'd have to sue Viagogo in Switzerland."

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