Viagogo faces UK court action over ticket reselling policies

Fifa announced in early June that it had filed a complaint against Viagogo in Switzerland for illegally selling tickets for the World Cup in Russia

Online ticket retailer Viagogo will face court action as part of a clampdown on the reselling market for concerts and sports events, Britain's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Friday.

The regulator had threatened action against four major secondary ticketing websites last November, sparking StubHub, GETMEIN! and Seatwave to formally commit to overhauling their business practices.

But Viagogo refused to make any concessions and will now fight the CMA at London's High court, the regulator said.

CMA suspects Viagogo of breaking consumer law, arguing its customers run the risk of being turned away at venues, not knowing which seat they will get, and experiencing difficulties in getting refunds.

It also accuses it of offering tickets that a seller may not be able to supply.

"People who buy tickets on websites like Viagogo must be given all the information they are entitled to," Andrea Coscelli, CMA Chief Executive Officer, said in the statement.

"Unfortunately, while other businesses have agreed to overhaul their sites to ensure they respect the law, Viagogo has not.

"We will now be pursuing action through the courts to ensure that they comply with the law," he added.

The regulator is seeking an interim enforcement order to ban Viagogo from engaging in certain practices until the trial is heard.

Viagogo, which is based in Switzerland, has been hit by a series of recent lawsuits across Europe.

The most common accusation is of charging well above face value for tickets.

Fifa announced in early June that it had filed a complaint in Switzerland for illegally selling tickets for the World Cup in Russia, while French authorities filed a complaint in late 2017.

US businessman Eric Baker helped set up the Viagogo platform in London in 2006, and it is now active in 50 countries and developed partnerships with numerous producers, artists and major sports clubs to sell tickets to their events.

All the platform's vendor-users are anonymous and Viagogo merely processes the transaction and distributes the tickets.

Prices on the site are set directly by the vendors, and are therefore not subject to Viagogo's control, according to the company.