Viagogo Reviews: After many consumer returns

Some reviews/experience about Viagogo:

"I am still waiting for the refund of my 2 tickets, despite my numerous reminders, for the concert of Lynyrd Skynyrd which would have taken place on June 29, 2020 as part of the Festival of Nimes. A service to avoid"

"This Viagogo site is a real plague!
A concert postponed in London cannot be refunded and for the return of the tickets, you had to pay a commission, so the commission on the purchase and commission on the sale!

"A big deception, or it looks a lot like it. Tickets for Mélody Gardot next July, 94 euros sold, at the end with various fees 135 euros charged and at reception (again!) face value 51 euros. Tickets are always available at the Fnac, which is much cheaper, and at the Amex concierge."

On the other hand, it is worth remembering that a disgruntled consumer will always make more noise than a satisfied consumer, and we call for the utmost caution when it comes to bad reviews.

The press investigation

Until recently, it was futile to try to contact Viagogo, the much-criticized concert ticket resale site, for information: no one was responding to the press. But the situation has changed: a few days ago, after an article on the history of Live Nation and Metallica, which had agreed to offer concert tickets directly on second-hand resale platforms, we received an email from a communication agency offering us an "exchange" with the French spokesperson of Viagogo. After years of silence against their media criticism, Viagogo finally asked a French lawyer, Diane Mullenex, who works at a London law firm, to come forward.

It was time, because there is no shortage of complaints against Viagogo. Since its arrival in France in 2011, the forums of consumer protection sites are filled with messages from Internet users who shout fraud after buying tickets that did not allow them to enter the event they wanted to attend. Several organizers of shows or sporting events have also filed a complaint against the site (the French Tennis Federation, for example, has condemned Viagogo, among others, for offering tickets to Roland Garros three months before the opening of the official ticket office).

In February 2018, Prodiss, the National Union of Musical Shows and Variety, which counts among its members all the heavyweights of the sector, even launched a communication campaign entitled #FanPasGogo to denounce "the illegal resale of tickets to shows through certain Internet platforms" …

Latest dispute: Google decided on July 17 to deprive Viagogo of advertising on the paid part of its search results, as the site is not considered "reliable". The problems have been exposed, here are the words of the defense…

"At home, the seller is only paid after the show. This prevents fraud."
Billboard magazine's revelations on Live Nation and Metallica show that sometimes artists or show producers force people to resell tickets directly to the second market at the highest price, that is, without going through the usual ticketing agencies, do you confirm?
Metallica's story is just the tip of the iceberg. In these big tours or sporting events, we have a system where there are very few tickets that are actually put on public sale, because of the companies that pay for the private lodges or the concierge services that they buy in bulk, for example. The first market organizes the rarity of the ticket with the complicity of the artist, and forces the real fans to go to the second market.

It should be kept in mind that this problem of the second market exists only because the first market does not control its ticketing system and accepts that the robot software comes to divert the tickets and then sells them elsewhere. This is an extremely common phenomenon. At Viagogo, we have terms and conditions that require the user, according to French law, not to be a "regular seller".

In addition, at home, the seller is not paid until after the show. This prevents fraud, because if you buy a ticket from a seller for a show and you are denied access, Viagogo will refund you in full[notez que sur la page “Garantie Viagogo”, il n’est pas fait mention d’un remboursement si l’accès à l’événement vous est refusé. La seule garantie mentionnée est que l’acheteur recevra les billets à temps pour l’événement. Il dit simplement : “Si vous avez un problème avec vos billets le jour de l’événement, vous devez contacter Viagogo dans les 5 jours suivant l’incident pour signaler le problème”, et Viagogo ne promet pas de résoudre le litige en votre nom].

And even in some cases, when people had incurred air or hotel expenses, they were reimbursed. We try to ensure the veracity of the tickets and identify the sellers who sell in bulk. But they can use different link platforms like ours, or even a site like The Good Corner.

In any case, a European directive will ban wholesale purchases by robots, as is already the case in the United States, and we have already put in place algorithms to detect them.

"Today, we do educational work with journalists."
How do you feel about Google's decision to deny you advertising?

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We're a little upset. I think european regulators ha[en tant que régulateur de la concurrence au Royaume-Uni]ve put a lot of pressure on Google. But it is mostly a communication problem between Google and Viagogo. Things are being discussed, we explain to Google all the steps we have taken for a long time, the changes to the site … Things are on the way.

Until seven or eight months ago, my client did not speak to the press or institutions, he could only hear the point of view of Prodis, the show organisers or football. Today, we do educational work with journalists, but also with parliamentarians and ministries. But it is true that we still do not explain enough what we do.

"If Viagogo was super opaque and never responded, we would have procedures everywhere."

You were talking about this policy of non-communication that has prevailed for a long time, but is there not a greater problem of opacity around Viagogo? Especially since it is a company registered in the tax haven of Delaware, in the United States.
The state of Delaware is home to all the world's largest Internet companies, including French companies. Not because it is a tax haven, but because fifteen years ago they decided to specialize in Internet companies and have a relatively well-trained tribunal. We are not talking about smoking places like the British Virgin Islands, where there is no jurisdiction: in the United States, there is a state where there are courts.

In addition, we have a subsidiary in Switzerland and every time we are summoned to court in France, we appear and conduct transactions. When, for example, Olympique de Marseille ordered us to publish the notice of conviction, we did so on the website. And every time a show producer shows us that he has the titles of a show, we "erase" his event before we even have a legal process. In France, I have only two proceedings in progress: UEFA (we had a very good decision at first instance, we are waiting to see if they appeal: they asked us for 6 million, we were sentenced to 300,000 euros in damages) and the French Tennis Federation for Roland Garros.

If Viagogo was super opaque and never responded, we would have procedures everywhere. We had them, as with Old Ploughs, but it goes back to 2011, or with Prodis in 2012, but we have been working with the music world for four or five years.

But you don't have an office in France, so you don't have an address in France or a local phone number for your customer service?
I give you the statistics of the after-sales service: 92% of complaints are processed within 24 hours. We have a lot of transactions in France and relatively few consumer disputes, which are resolved quickly. No one can afford to invest and manage a business in each country: Viagogo is present in 153 markets. This does not mean that we do not follow the rules and that we do not reimburse the consumer who has a problem.

How does Viagogo review work?

The basic principle is based on the guarantee that the customer will receive the tickets ordered for the event and that the seller will receive the money only if the tickets actually allow the buyer to attend the event. For every ticket purchased on the site, Viagogo recovers 25% of the price: 15% is paid by the seller at the time of the announcement and 10% by the buyer at the time of the transaction. Thanks to the immediate success of the site in Europe, this business model has enabled the company to achieve a turnover of tens of millions of euros as of 20076.7.

In order to increase the volume of exchanges, Viagogo then tried to develop partnerships, for example with the organizers Roland Garros (later denounced) and Masters to create a primary and secondary ticketing service, or with artists like Roger Waters to organize ticket sales during his tour of The Wall Live8.

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The history of Viagogo

Viagogo was founded in January 2006 by Eric Baker, an MBA graduate from Stanford University, a former McKinsey consultant and founder of StubHub 1, an online ticketing platform operating in the United States since 2000. To finance the creation of his Delaware-registered company2 , Baker is supported by private investors, including Brent Hoberman, founder of and venture capitalist of Index Ventures3.

Viagogo's original goal was to resell tickets for sporting events, concerts and shows. The platform provides access to high-demand events, including ticketing events.

In the first year, Viagogogo surpassed StubHub, the first company created by Eric Baker, after three years. Because Baker pioneered this sector in Europe, the company has grown rapidly and in a few years has become the leading online ticketing site, with an estimated annual turnover of more than $100 million by 20134. In 2014, Viagogo partnered with SFX, the world's largest event organiser EDM5, before the company experienced financial difficulties.