On Wednesday night (August 2nd), BBC 1’s Watchdog investigated the UK’s estimated £1bn per annum secondary ticketing market – raising yet more concerns about business practices in this sector, and in particular those of the Swiss-based company Viagogo.
The programme included interviews with distressed Viagogo customers who believe they have been mis-sold tickets via the site and are now struggling to gain refunds. Watchdog also highlighted the company’s aggressive marketing techniques and, crucially, raised important clarifications from National Trading Standards that Viagogo’s interpretation of UK consumer law is “incorrect”.
The findings are just the latest evidence of a market that is no longer fit for purpose, with Viagogo and its competitors – StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave – providing the perfect environment for a network of professional ticket touts to prosper at the expense of genuine fans.
Launching in July 2016 to campaign against this industrial-scale of online ticket touting, FanFair Alliance has grown increasingly alarmed by the way in which music consumers are systematically misled by these under-regulated platforms. Recent research by Which? found that approximately half of people who purchased tickets on these sites believed that they were buying from the official ticket seller.
As a result, FanFair has teamed up with Claire Turnham, founder of the Victim of Viagogo Facebook Group, to produce some free and comprehensive guidance to assist consumers seeking refunds from secondary ticketing sites.
The guidance is available now from the FanFair Alliance website, having been advocated by promoters at Kilimanjaro and DHP during the ticket sale for Ed Sheeran’s recently-announced 2018 stadium tour. During this period, the advice has helped secure chargebacks totalling more than £45,000.
In the 6 months since it launched, Victim of Viagogo’s #fairgogo campaign has helped return over £100,000 to disgruntled Viagogo customers in the form of chargebacks and refunds.
Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty said: “I’m glad Watchdog has used their platform to expose some of what fans go through with touts and particularly Viagogo. It’s deeply unethical to subject consumers to this kind of manipulative pressure selling. I look forward to the reports from the ASA and the CMA from their investigations on the subject, and I hope this program will have raised awareness and helped consumers avoid falling victim to Viagogo. Claire is an excellent campaigner and her guide will prove invaluable to many – but consumers shouldn’t be put in this position in the first place.”