Viagogo no no: customer loses £416 on unusable Ed Sheeran tickets
Recently widowed Eloise Wilson is £416 out of pocket after she was conned into purchasing unusable Ed Sheeran tickets by reselling website Viagogo.
Eloise's husband died and with his birthday coming up, their son suggested they go to the singer's concert, she told The Times.
"We were all fans and he thought it was a good way to celebrate his dad’s life and get through a difficult day."
But when she found Viagogo online, Eloise was unaware that tickets sold on its website wouldn't be accepted at Sheeran's concerts.
Sheeran's concerts do not allow tickets bought on any secondary site other than Twickets - where resold tickets go for face value - meaning Eloise's tickets were useless.
"The Viagogo site appeared legitimate and highlighted its guarantee. The £160 ticket price seemed expensive, but as he is a big star I assumed this was the market rate.
"There was a clock ticking telling me I only had so many minutes to complete the transaction, so I clicked to buy.
"I received a confirmation of the purchase and I was alarmed to see a £415.87 total. I had made a terrible mistake.”
When she complained, Viagogo told her the only way to get her money back was to resell the tickets to another customer - who wouldn't be able to use them either!
Eloise is far from alone: the Viagogo Facebook and Twitter page are overrun with hundreds of messages from upset customers.
There is even a Victims of Viagogo Facebook page with more than 4,700 members.
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How Viagogo lures people in
Eloise said she found Viagogo because it appeared first in Google search rankings.
However, Viagogo pays for an advert at the top of Google search rankings.
A spokesman for Google told The Times that since February 7 those who advertise through Adwords have to be certified.
“We think that event ticket resellers that agree to these transparency requirements will provide a better and safer user experience.”
To be certified a ticket reseller must not imply that they are a primary marketplace, must disclose themselves as a ticket reseller and that prices may be above face value, and must break down the price, including fees and taxes, before payment information is required.
However, a quick Google search finds Viagogo is still a top result.
It's ad on Google is also tagged with phrases such as "Selling Fast", "Secure Your Seats", "Don't Miss Out", "Prices Rising", "Deals Won't Last Long", "Secure Delivery" and "Many People Viewing".
Stuart Galbraith, the chief executive of Kilimanjaro Live, which is Ed Sheeran’s promoter, has criticised Google for making a fortune in advertising revenue from resale sites.
Tricking hundreds of people
A Spokesman Said has received more than 300 complaints from Viagogo customers.
One of those was Roger Underwood.
He spent £358.95 on two theatre tickets to Matilda the Musical at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
But when he downloaded the tickets they are invalid.
Viagogo has also been accused of reselling tickets at prices well beyond their value.
That's what happened to Anna Elliott.
"I purchased two tickets for a Hollywood Undead concert in Birmingham.
"I paid over £116 for two tickets which had a face value of £16.25 each. I understand there is a need to make a profit but that is appalling.
"There was no indication of the face value until I printed the tickets the night before the concert."
Viagogo doesn't care
Fan Fair Alliance wants better protection for gig-goers. Campaign manager Adam Webb said Viagogo did not appear to acknowledge any terms or conditions on any ticket.
“This is contrary to what is written on a ticket. Viagogo’s stock reply to anyone who challenges this orthodoxy is to relist the ticket, passing the misery on to someone else.
“Under the Consumer Rights Act, Viagogo has to flag any restrictions to potential buyers, as well as other details, such as the original face value, and any seat locations. It consistently fails to do this.”
The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) has widespread concerns about the secondary ticket market and may take enforcement action.
It says that sites must highlight any restrictions on using a resold ticket and has broadened the scope of its investigation to include pressure selling, and whether claims made about the availability of tickets rush customers into buying.
Viagogo said it had “no further comment” beyond the answers on its online FAQs section.
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