The Great Ticket Scandal – viagogo responds to Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon has today received a letter from secondary ticketing website viagogo, who were heavily featured in the Channel 4 Dispatches: The Great Ticket Scandal documentary.
In the interests of fairness, the full letter has been reproduced below from a scan of the letter (any discrepancies are due to software faults and will be happily rectified).
Sharon will post her response after the weekend.
Scanned letter from viagogo here > viagogo letter to Sharon Hodgson pdf
Dated 7th March 2012
"Dear Ms Hodgson
As you are aware, the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, The Great Ticket Scandal which was broadcast last week has led to renewed media and political focus on ticket sales and the protection of consumers online. As you were featured in the programme and because of our previous contact with you last year, we were keen to outline to you viagogo’s response to the allegations in the programme. We have also written to a number of other Parliamentarians along these lines.
viagogo is the UK's leading online marketplace for the secondary sale of tickets. We exist to provide a safe, secure platform for the buying and selling of live event tickets. viagogo is an open marketplace, and while the majority of sellers are individuals, we do allow larger sellers, including event organisers, from selling on our platform. Above all we provide a guarantee that buyers will get the tickets they have paid for which has helped dramatically reduce ticket fraud and scams in the UK.
We believe that, although accessibility to such high profile events will always be limited, the secondary market actually enhances public access. The secondary market is often the only recourse for those who cannot buy tickets due to the lack of genuine distribution to ordinary fans. This is especially true of events such as the Wimbledon finals where only a small number of tickets are available on public sale.
A number of allegations about our practices were presented in the programme and we would like to make the following points in response:
• viagogo is an open marketplace. While the overwhelming majority of sellers are ordinary sports and music fans who sell one or two tickets, there are larger sellers on the platform, including promoters and event organisers. We allow anyone to sell on our platform provided that they deliver the tickets that they sell. We are not a primary ticket seller in that we don’t print tickets, or manage box offices.
• To ensure we can offer our customers the best selection of seats, we partner with event organisers, promoters and artists who make certain premium tickets available to buyers via our website. These tickets are priced closer to the 'true market value' of the ticket which allows the organiser to capture more of the true value of the ticket, while at the same time eliminating the possibility of someone else buying the ticket to resell at a profit. These partnerships are frequently publicised and currently include Madonna's 2012 European tour, The Isle of Wight Festival, Roland-Giros (The French Open),and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
• viagogo only ever allows people to buy and sell tickets once the event has officially gone on sale tithe public through a so called ’presale' or public ’onsale', which means that the tickets already exist. Every ticket comes with a guarantee that buyers receive the ticket they purchased in time for the event and the seller gets paid —that is what matters for consumers.
• We have in the past purchased a small number of tickets ourselves. The primary objective in purchasing tickets is to ensure we have a small number of tickets in reserve for fulfilling our guarantee that purchasers will receive their tickets in time for the event. In the secondary market there are number of reasons as to why a seller may not fulfil its obligation to the buyer. We firmly believe that every customer should get the ticket they paid for or their money back. Therefore, a small number of tickets are purchased as ”replacements" in the instance a seller fails to deliver. Sometimes these purchased tickets are also posted on the website for sale, but only after the onsale date of the show.
• viagogo sought an injunction to stop the broadcast of the programme in order to prevent the specific details of confidential commercial agreements being made public. All sellers on our website are our customers, and our number one priority is to protect our customers' data and private information, so we will always do whatever we can to prevent that information from falling into the wrong hands.
We do however, accept that some of the wording on our website and in our literature is not entirely clear and we are proposing to make a number of changes to reflect developments in our business since we launched in 2006.
We will make these changes over the coming weeks and will aim look to make changes in the following areas:
• Clarify that we are a marketplace, and while the majority of sellers are individuals selling a small number of tickets, we are not exclusively a marketplace for 'fans selling to other fans'. As outlined, we do have agreements with a number of promoters, sports clubs and artists to act as market place for the sale of a small number of their premium tickets.
• Re-stating our mission to provide a safe, secure and transparent ticket marketplace by providing guarantee that buyers receive the tickets they pay for, and sellers get paid.
As you know from our meeting with your colleague last year, although well—intentioned, we believe that your proposed legislation would drive the secondary ticket market back underground with all the consequent safety and transparency issues that arise from that. Powerful legislation already exists to outlaw scam websites and fraudulent street touting, which already face problems of effective enforcement. These policing and enforcement problems would mean that the bill would have little effect on the ‘wild west' of scam websites and street touts, but would unfairly restrict the activity of legitimate websites like ours.
At viagogo we have worked hard to create a legitimate secondary ticket market that is used by tens of thousands of people, all of whom are buying and selling tickets safe in the knowledge that they will have guaranteed ticket. We would not want the Government to bring in ill—conceived and unenforceable legislation that would threaten this consumer protection and only serve to drive the secondary ticket market underground leaving consumers open to fraud and scams.
If you felt it would be of interest, we would be very happy to brief you further on viagogo and our views on the secondary ticket market. Please contact [redacted for privacy] if you would like to set up a meeting.
Read Sharon Hodgson's response to viagogo here >
Return to Ticket Tout campaign webpage >
Sharon Hodgson MP
House of Commons,
London SW1A 0AA
Westminster Office Tel. 020 7219 5160
Constituency Office Tel. 0191 417 2000.
Please note, Sharon Hodgson's website is not funded through Parliamentary expenses.