Thursday, May 23, 2024

Legal victory over Viagogo a win for consumers

The Commerce Commission has won a hard-fought legal victory over global ticket reseller, Viagogo, after the company repeatedly mislead customers about its authenticity as an official ticket seller, its status as a resale platform, and the price, scarcity, and validity of tickets.

Fair Trading General Manager, Vanessa Horne, says Viagogo was one of the Commission’s most complained about traders, as many Kiwi consumers were unknowingly buying tickets that were not valid for admission.

“The Commission is aware of a large number of reports from consumers who had purchased event tickets from Viagogo, booked flights and travel to attend the event, only to be turned away at the entrance when they found out for the first time that their tickets weren’t authentic,” said Ms Horne.

This resulted in significant distress and financial impacts for consumers, she said.

“We took this case on behalf of every one of those Kiwi consumers and pursued this large global entity over more than eight years – and we now have a ruling that will require Viagogo to be upfront with Kiwi consumers about what they’re buying and ensure a fairer resolution system for settling disputes against Viagogo in the future.”

Ms Horne says the important legal win is an excellent example of where a consumer protection agency like the Commerce Commission can successfully hold global businesses, like Viagogo, to account.

These businesses need to be clear about their obligations under the law if they are operating in the New Zealand market, including the protections that the Fair Trading Act provides to Kiwi consumers and businesses, she said.

The Commission’s legal action against Viagogo began in 2018, concluding with this High Court’s ruling against the company – and involved a period in which the company challenged efforts to subject it to New Zealand jurisdiction.

“This case was about holding a global business to account for the harm they were causing in New Zealand and paving the way for individuals to have the ability to stand up for their consumer rights against international companies.”

“The New Zealand Fair Trading Act requires businesses to make accurate claims and consider the overall impression a consumer would have based on their representations.”

Ms Horne says Viagogo went so far as to require in its terms and conditions that any customer disputes had to be dealt with through the Swiss courts, which the High Court has now deemed to be an “unfair contract term” under the Fair Trading Act.

The High Court has ordered that Viagogo correct the misleading information on its website and update its terms and conditions in contracts with Kiwi consumers to allow for customer disputes to be dealt with through the New Zealand courts.

In a statement, the Commission said it would like to thank consumers, businesses, and other ticket sellers who came forward with their experiences with Viagogo and provided essential information in the Commission’s successful proceedings against Viagogo.

Viagogo has appealed the judgment. The appeal will be strongly defended by the Commission, it said today.

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