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Viagogo facing criminal action over court breach

World News
February 5, 2019

UNITED KINGDOM               

Controversial secondary ticketing website Viagogo has been accused of breaching a court order, with legal action to follow “as quickly as possible”.

Secured by the Competition and Market Authority (CMA) last year, the order required Viagogo to overhaul its business model and comply with a range of consumer protection legislation by 18 January.

However, the company did not do this, as CMA executive director of enforcement Michael Grenfell told an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse (APPG) meeting, held at Parliament this month.

“We are extremely concerned about it and will take action as quickly as is possible – this is extremely serious and we are building our case,” he told MPs and others present.

He said that he expected it to take around two weeks to gather evidence of Viagogo’s breaches and that it would be a criminal matter.

Speaking to Audience, a CMA spokesman says, “We are now undertaking our own checks of Viagogo and, if we find breaches of the court order, we will not hesitate to take action.

“This could include pursuing rapid action through the courts.”

However, a defiant Viagogo spokesman says, “Further to the agreement we reached with the CMA, we have met the deadline and are now compliant.

“All tickets on Viagogo are valid and it is perfectly legal to resell a ticket or give it to someone else if you want to.”

While Viagogo, which moved its headquarters from London to Geneva in Switzerland several years ago, claims it is compliant, FanFair Alliance (FFA) campaign manager Adam Webb is incredulous.

“Although a few minor changes have been implemented, some of which may add even more confusion for consumers, we would be astonished if the site is compliant with the terms of its court order,” says Webb.

“Its practices are an affront to audiences, to artistes and to the law.”

This was supported by APPG chair Sharon Hodgson MP West, who says, “I’m disappointed, but not surprised, to find that Viagogo has not made any drastic changes to its unscrupulous practices that rip-off fans.”

As part of the court order, Viagogo is paying for an independent review into its refund records dating back to January 2016. The company will have to contact customers itself and rectify any refund claims that it incorrectly rejected or only paid in-part.

The court order also required it to fund an independent party to monitor its website over the next five years, to ensure it complies with the order.

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