Google under pressure to cut Viagogo advertising

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Google has confirmed it will abide by any rulings made by a parliamentary inquiry into the secondary ticketing industry.

The technology giant has been urged by leading sporting organisations like the Football Association and the Rugby Football Union to stop accepting advertising business from ticket platform Viagogo over claims the site is breaking several aspects of consumer law.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has brought legal action against the firm following its own investigation into Viagogo’s business practices.

In response to a letter sent to Google executives last week citing concerns about Viagogo that has been signed by the FA and RFU, as well as MPs and trade body UK Music, the tech firm said it would continue to monitor developments.

(Yui Mok/PA)
Google has been urged by MPs, sporting and music bodies to stop accepting advertising business from ticket platform Viagogo (Yui Mok/PA)

“We await the conclusion of these inquiries and we hope that they will clarify the rules in the interests of consumers. We will abide by the rulings of these enquiries and local law.

“In February, we updated our policies to ensure that resellers cannot claim to be official providers of tickets and that they must be transparent about their price, fees and taxes before requiring payment.”

The letter to Google claims Viagogo’s prominence in search results due to advertising could be leading consumers to buy tickets for live events that may be invalid or at marked-up prices when face value tickets were still on sale elsewhere.

“In effect, one of the world’s most trusted brands – Google – is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted,” it said.

Last week the company was criticised by the chairman of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) select committee for not attending an inquiry hearing into the firm’s conduct and the live music sector.

Damian Collins warned consumers against using the site, calling it “not a reputable company”.

His response came after Viagogo confirmed in a letter to Collins that its head of business development and sales, Christopher Miller, would not make a scheduled appearance to face questions from MPs on his firm’s conduct, citing legal advice.

As well as contesting the case with the CMA, Viagogo has also launched its own legal action against promotor Kilimanjaro Live, which it alleges invalidated thousands of resold tickets for Ed Sheeran’s 2018 UK arena tour.

Kilimanjaro Live chief executive Stuart Galbraith called the action “ludicrous”.

In a statement, Viagogo said: “All tickets listed on Viagogo are valid. It is perfectly legal to resell a ticket if you want to. Any promoter trying to cancel a genuine ticket is not acting in the interests of fans.”

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