The true nature of Viagogo’s ticket resale business model is today laid bare – after a Record investigation revealed how the rogue site’s trade is dominated by touts .
We examined 25 major forthcoming gigs at Scotland’s biggest venue and found 89 per cent of tickets on sale were offered by official scalpers – including many from overseas in countries such as the US, Dubai and the Ukraine.
Our research makes a mockery of Viagogo’s claims that its main service is a “peer to peer” platform for fans who change their mind about going to gigs.
The address information only came into the public domain after the site grudgingly agreed to amend many aspects of its operation that were in breach of UK consumer laws .
Our analysis of 25 shows at the SSE Hydro found 2277 tickets listed on Viagogo.
● 2030 were listed by touts (89 per cent).
● Only 247 (11 per cent) were listed from fans.
● There were 119 different touts listed.
● Only 13 (11 per cent) were registered in Scotland.
● 80 (67 per cent) came from elsewhere in the UK.
● The other 26 (22 per cent) were registered outside the UK.
Despite Consumer Contract Regulations stating online sellers should list their addresses and be contactable by customers via phone numbers, Viagogo only provides the information near the end of the sales process, after customers have input their credit card details.
We found that many of the addresses were for PO boxes or used trading names that do not correspond with any listed UK companies – meaning customers have no realistic way of contacting whoever is selling the tickets.
Some addresses are written in Ukrainian.
The latest revelations come after Viagogo pledged to clean up its act, amid an ongoing investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority.
The CMA has threatened to haul Viagogo into court and potentially jail its bosses for more than two years but instead has chosen to constantly negotiate with the site and encourage them to fall into line with UK law.
They appear to be content with constantly talking with Viagogo as they inch towards legality, the High Court in London instructing the site to make drastic changes to its operations or face the consequences.
Adam Webb, of pressure group FanFair Alliance, said: “This snapshot offers irrefutable proof that Viagogo is not a fan-to-fan marketplace.
“In fact, there appears to be hardly any fans using the site. Around 90 per cent of tickets at the 25 shows we looked at were listed by “traders”, many based overseas and most of them untraceable.
“Secondly, it shows the extraordinary lengths that Viagogo will go to protect its suppliers – even with a court order hanging over their head.
“You’d have to question why they do this. Reputable ticket companies use captcha technology to protect their users. Viagogo employ it to hide the identity of their sellers.
“We have real concerns that such practices constitute a breach of consumer law. The directors need to be called to account. In fact, the directors should already be in court.”
Until recently, Viagogo gave little indication of the identity of its sellers.
Under pressure from the CMA, they were forced to use a star icon at the start of the purchase process, to indicate if a “trader” (defined as someone selling more than 100 tickets per year) was listing the ticket.
Viagogo also provides a name for sellers but initials or fake identities can be used, meaning buyers often can’t see who they are buying from.
To access the address of these sellers, the user has to enter their credit card details and then go through the captcha process.
Webb said: “It’s an extraordinarily lengthy process and suspect many users will go through the purchase process without the faintest idea of who they are actually buying from.
“And because so many of the addresses are untraceable or incomplete, or written in Ukrainian, we still do not know who many of the sellers are.
“Only Viagogo will know their true identities, since they will hold their payment details.”
Overall traffic on Viagogo appears to be substantially down on previous years.
Efforts by the Daily Record and FanFair Alliance to steer fans away from tout sites have been backed by government ministers and other MPs.
Webb said: “There definitely appears to be fewer tickets listed than a few years ago.
“It feels increasingly like Viagogo is a busted flush, propped up by an international network of touts.”
David McKinney, a lawyer with Glasgow practice Jackson Boyd, said there could be a potential breach of the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 if any of the traders cannot be contacted by using the addresses supplied by Viagogo.
He said: “If the address is bogus or the consumer can’t contact them, it would be a failure to comply with the regulations in my opinion.”
In a recent interview, Viagogo boss Cris Miller said the site would become fully compliant with the CMA order “as soon
He said: “We’ve been working very closely with the CMA.
“We’ve made a considerable number of changes – nearly over 1000 – to the website based off the interpretations of how the order looks, so we feel very confident we’re making very good direction”.
He said in another interview that Viagogo’s selling “is all peer to peer”.
But in 2007, Viagogo’s founder Eric Baker made a written submission to Parliament, where he said that fan-to-fan trading was a priority.