Viagogo referred to National Trading Standards by ASA for misleading buyers

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Secondary tickets marketplace Viagogo is under pressure after the Advertising Standards Agency referred them to UK National Trading Standards for misleading buyers.

The ASA has accused Viagogo of misleading consumers by not offering transparent information about extra fees added to the ticket prices displayed. They have also been critical of the term “official site” used on the marketplace suggesting Viagogo was an authorised primary agent rather than a reseller marketplace. The ASA also said Viagogo should not promise a “100% guarantee” to consumers which it cannot back up, as happened when Ed Sheehan cancelled 10,000 tickets sold on the site. That action is expected to have cost them £250,000.

Viagogo was given clear warning and handed the opportunity to play fair with consumers by removing misleading pricing information from its website; its failure to do so means it will now face the consequences. Where an advertiser or business is unwilling or unable to follow the advertising rules we will act. In light of Viagogo’s inability to get its house in order, we’re referring it to National Trading Standards to consider appropriate action.
– Guy Parker, ASA chief executive

The digital minister Margot James, in an unusual intervention, also said today: “Don’t choose Viagogo – they are the worst.”

Sanctions already applied by the ASA include a request to Google and Bing to remove some of the ticket marketplace’s adverts. Although it’s not clear that they have complied. The company has been added to a list of non-compliant firms and the ASA has launched an advertising campaign highlighting its behaviour to consumers. The reason these problems have been escalated is because National Trading Standards has far more, and stringent, options available including levying fines and imprisoning staff.

Ticket reselling and the secondary market remains one of the more controversial areas of ecommerce and Viagogo is doing nothing to improve the reputation of that particular aspect of online sellers. But such firm action from the ASA and, hopefully, National Trading Standards in due course is welcome.

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