Viagogo blocked from advertising on Google

Google has suspended Viagogo from advertising amid ongoing complaints about the ticket reseller’s practices.

Ticket reseller checking

Ticket resale site Viagogo has been suspended from advertising on Google.

Viagogo ads had routinely taken top spot when consumers used Google to search for tickets to events. However, amid ongoing complaints about the ticket reseller’s practices, Google has suspended Viagogo from advertising.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the organisation called for action against Viagogo after its investigation of the ticket resale market in 2017 found evidence of misleading sales tactics.

“We asked Google why it was allowing Viagogo to advertise, given the mounting evidence consumers were being duped by the site. While we’re pleased Google has taken action and blocked the company from advertising, it’s taken too long,” Ms Chetwin said.

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said: “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust."

Many purchasers who ended up on Viagogo didn’t know they were dealing with a reseller. Unclear pricing and hidden fees resulted in significant mark-ups on tickets. In some cases, consumers were sold fake tickets.

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said: “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust. This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach.”

Google’s decision comes after regulators had already taken action against Viagogo.

In April, the Australian Federal Court found Viagogo made false or misleading representations and engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.

The company is also facing action by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which is calling for the ticket resale website to be found in contempt of court after failing to fully comply with an order to overhaul its website.

Here, the Commerce Commission is also pursuing action against Viagogo. The commission previously applied to the High Court seeking an interim injunction preventing Viagogo from making allegedly misleading representations.

The commission alleged Viagogo made false or misleading representations about ticket prices; that it was an “official” seller; that tickets were limited or about to sell out; and that consumers were "guaranteed" to receive valid tickets.

In February, the court dismissed the application, on the grounds it had no jurisdiction to make a finding because Viagogo had not been formally served. Viagogo is based in Switzerland and had declined to accept service of the court proceedings in New Zealand.

The commission is appealing the High Court’s decision to the Court of Appeal.

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