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Spike in ticket scalping

Geoff Helisma|

NSW Fair Trading is investigating ticket reseller Viagogo, as consumer complaints against the company spike in line with the reintroduction of ticketed events.

The Independent revealed that tickets for a Paul Kelly concert at Yamba Bowling Club were sold out within minutes of going on sale – some of these tickets were advertised on Viagogo’s website for up to $740 on the same day.

The following week, a NSW Fair Trading media officer told the Independent in an emailed response: “I don’t think [Fair Trading] will have much more to say at this point, I’m afraid.

“The department stands by what is on the website and urges people to complain if they see instances of ticket scalping.”

This response prompted Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis to say NSW Fair Trading “needs a good shake-up” and that a “lot of the NSW public are not happy with Fair Trading and how it responds to community and public concerns; I hope the minister pulls it into gear.

“I think fair trading needs a good kick up the arse and you can quote me on that.”

A fortnight later, NSW Fair Trading announced that it had received 36 complaints about Viagogo in 2021, 16 relating to ticket scalping, 11 relating to the cancellation of events that were not refunded, five relating to misleading customers that they are the authorised seller, three for tickets not being delivered in a timely manner and one for not providing age restriction advice.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rose Webb said, in a media release, that “ticket scalpers, and especially Viagogo, should not get away with ripping off consumers”.

“It was big news in 2018 when NSW Fair Trading made ticket scalping illegal by making it an offence for ticket resellers such as Viagogo to charge more than 10 per cent extra on the original ticket price and transactions costs,” she said.

“…Now that events are back on the agenda, we have seen a spike again and, despite Viagogo being explicitly warned and receiving a $7 million fine from the ACCC in 2020, they continue to flout the rules.

“Those within the entertainment and arts industry have been vocal about the obliteration of their industry due to COVID and they do not need the additional stress of ticket resellers scalping well-meaning fans.

“We will be investigating and using our powers to stop any unlawful behaviour.”

The most common complaint lodged with Fair Trading was related to tickets for the musical, Hamilton, exceeding the 110 per cent cap.

Ms Webb urged anyone who had witnessed or experienced ticket scalping to report the incident at the Fair Trading website: Make a complaint | NSW Fair Trading