Two ads for Viagogo have been banned for implying that tickets bought via its website could get fans into events including Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.
The first of the two advertorials, seen on nme.com in June, was headed: “The best gigs to see this summer at Hyde Park,” and went on to list Blackpink, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, Pink, Guns N’ Roses and Lana Del Rey.
It went on to include a link to the Viagogo website, where tickets were sold for each gig.
The second advertorial, seen in July, began: “A beginners guide to getting Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ tour tickets. How to avoid the scammers and secure tickets.”
It went on: “To purchase resale tickets as safely as possible, fans should avoid buying tickets via social media … Your best bet is ticket marketplaces like Viagogo, which connects ticket sellers with fans via a safe platform.”
It also included a link to the Viagogo website, where tickets were sold for the tour.
FanFair Alliance, which understood the resale of tickets through secondary ticketing websites such as Viagogo was prohibited by the events listed in the ads, complained that the ads were misleading.
Last year, some Swift fans who managed to secure tickets to her concerts were caught out after learning that the tour had been designated a “lead booker event” – meaning the buyer had to attend with the ticket-holders in the same party – in an effort to crack down on scalpers.
Those who found themselves unable to attend have been able to sell their tickets, but only via original partners Ticketmaster and AXS.
Viagogo told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) it did not believe the ads were misleading, claiming that the ads simply stated that tickets for the events were legitimately available on their marketplace and “were not an offering to consumers to enter into a transaction for a specific ticket”.
Viagogo said it believed it was “extremely unlikely” that a customer would not gain admission to an event after purchasing a ticket through its site, even if the terms and conditions of the event itself purported that resale tickets were prohibited.
It said less than 1% of customers were denied entry to events after having purchased a ticket on its platform, and it operated a guarantee so that if a customer was not admitted they would be entitled to a refund.
The ASA said the ads did not include any information to make consumers aware that some venues, including the ones listed, did not accept resale tickets and that consumers who purchased them might be refused entry on the door.
It understood that the official terms and conditions for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour stated that “Your ticket(s) will immediately become invalid if resold or offered for sale unless the sale is through the official ticket agent fan to fan exchange,” and that “Tickets sold via third parties and other unauthorised outlets, including online auction sites, are not valid for admission.”
The ASA said: “We understood that Viagogo operated a guarantee whereby anyone who was not admitted to an event was entitled to receive a refund and we acknowledged that only a small proportion of their customers had been refused entry.
“However, we considered that the prohibition of resale tickets, as outlined in both the BST Hyde Park and Taylor Swift Eras Tour terms and conditions, was material information which was likely to affect a consumer’s decision to purchase tickets through Viagogo.
“Because the ads omitted material information about the validity of tickets purchased through Viagogo and the risk of the venues refusing entry to consumers who had purchased their tickets through secondary ticketing websites, we concluded that they were misleading.”
The ASA ruled that the ads must not appear again, adding: “We told Viagogo to ensure future ads did not mislead consumers by omitting material information regarding the entry restrictions on tickets purchased through them and other secondary ticketing sites.”
A Viagogo spokeswoman said: “We are disappointed by the ASA ruling. Viagogo is a safe, secure and regulated global online marketplace, and we are fully compliant with the law in all markets in which we operate.
“The ‘lead booker’ requirement for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour UK shows has been removed by Ticketmaster. This means there is no longer a need for the lead booker to be present and attend the show. In any event, the Viagogo guarantee is in place to protect fans and ensure those who have purchased tickets on our platform get in the door or their money back.
“We exist to get fans into live events and oppose anti-consumer actions taken by event organisers to restrict purchasing and resale options in an attempt to control the market. These measures ultimately harm fans by limiting choice, flexibility and access.”
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