Viagogo CEO Eric Baker photographed in Surry Hills, 16 September, 2013. The NSW Government is attempting to cut off electronic marketplaces for unused entertainment tickets, but it hasn't deterred UK group Viagogo from setting up in Australia. Pic - Sam Mooy
Viagogo CEO Eric Baker photographed in Surry Hills, 16 September, 2013. The NSW Government is attempting to cut off electronic marketplaces for unused entertainment tickets, but it hasn't deterred UK group Viagogo from setting up in Australia. Pic - Sam Mooy

Ticket scalper slams ‘careless’ buyers

EXCLUSIVE: INTERNATIONALLY infamous ticket scalper Viagogo has defended itself against legal action by Australia's consumer cops by attacking the "exceptionally careless" customers who made official complaints.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Switzerland-based ticket reselling giant are facing off in the Federal Court, with the ACCC alleging misleading or deceptive conduct, including through the use of the word use "official" in search engine advertisements such as Google.

Viagogo CEO Eric Baker. The ticket reselling giant says customers are to blame for not doing basic checks.    Picture:  Sam Mooy
Viagogo CEO Eric Baker. The ticket reselling giant says customers are to blame for not doing basic checks. Picture: Sam Mooy

But the barrister representing Viagogo has hit back, by accusing the five consumers who form the backbone of the commission's case of being "exceptionally careless".

"Here we have people searching for particular tickets, they are seeing an advertisement that refers to a name they've never heard of before and they don't take care, let alone reasonable care," Kate Morgan SC, for Viagogo, told the court.

"They didn't do a basic check" of what Viagogo was, Ms Morgan added.

"Not one of them checked the 'about us' tab." Later, she said:

"We say they are not taking reasonable care. They are exceptionally careless."

Earlier, Ms Morgan had encouraged Justice Stephen Burley to consider a 1982 case about knock-off furniture, where the court found the relevant section of consumer law was not designed to protect people who fail to take reasonable care to protect their own interests.

The ACCC has also alleged Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in ticket prices.
The ACCC has also alleged Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in ticket prices.

As to what "official" meant, Ms Morgan argued it was not that Viagogo was the authorised seller but merely that "it's the official Viagogo site".

The ACCC has also alleged Viagogo failed to disclose significant and unavoidable fees upfront in the ticket price, including a 28 per cent booking fee for most events.

In seeking to put more distance between the experience of a reasonable consumer and the ACCC's complainants, Ms Morgan said the five had been through an "expensive exercise" with which they were "ultimately very unhappy".

She submitted to Justice Burley that the consumers' evidence was of limited value because of inconsistencies and a lack of context.

For example, one consumers' recollection was that the "top three" results when she searched Google for tickets were ads for Viagogo when in fact only the first result was.

Another consumers' original complaint was based on a search done on an iPad, but her evidence was about the results from an iPhone.

The ACCC received more than 400 complaints about Viagogo before taking court action.

Since the proceedings were filed in August last year, Viagogo has stopped using "official" in its ads on Google.



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