22.07.2019

Are we finally seeing the end of the exploitative ticket resale industry?

Words by Bianca O'Neill

Why Google’s stance on Viagogo is just the beginning.

After the huge news that Google have finally taken a stance against questionable ticketing resale website, Viagogo, this week, it seems that we may finally be on our way to seeing the end of the exploitative ticket resale industry.

For years, punters have been subjected to inflated resale prices and scams as the touring and festival circuit heated up and tickets for some events sold out in seconds. Enter Viagogo, who have spread their reach through 160 countries over the last decade – and despite endless complaints of scalping and scams, plus a refusal to work with artists to limit secondary resale, continued to operate unabated.

Viagogo has been the subject of a significant number of court actions across the world, including breaches of consumer protections in the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Israel, and Australia. However, none of it has seemed to halt the website’s dogged success. Until now.

After campaigning from interest groups, Google have finally banned Viagogo from advertising on their search platform, resulting in a significant decline in ranking.

UK based consumer campaigner, Claire Turnham, said of the decision: “Given almost every victim of Viagogo across the UK and beyond comes via Google we are thrilled they have taken this definitive action to protect the public from ticket abuse worldwide.”

Viagogo’s fallen ranking should go some way to reducing the amount of sales on the site – often found by unsuspecting punters who believe that it is a genuine resale website. It may be hard to believe, but their marketing is convincing and slick – even to the point where some customers have been led to believe that Viagogo are official ticket partners for a tour.

Of course, many local festivals have already taken the step of banning resale of tickets other than via their own resale facilities. Splendour In The Grass has their own official ticket resale facility, not allowing any ticket holders to sell tickets privately (often with a ridiculous mark-up in price) through any means.

Similarly, FOMO Festival offer safe resale via their official ticketing partner, Moshtix, for their punters.

“Ethical resale is the best step we as promoters can take against the scourge of ticket scalping and sites like Viagogo,” says co-founder of FOMO Festival and BBE, Jess Krishnaswamy. “But it must go hand in hand with education so attendees know the traps and don’t get caught out. It’s been a slow and steady process to weed out the scammers – and eventually it may simply become too difficult for these people to make money from higher-priced ticket resale.”

“We share and communicate as much as we can to ensure kids that want to go to our shows have direct and safe access to cost price tickets at every step – whether that’s straight up or via safe resale.”

So what’s left in the battle for a fair ticket resale market? Well, I suppose the next big target for ticketing campaigners should be eBay…

Follow Bianca on Twitter at @bianca.oneill