CMA shows how far it is willing to “gogo” to ensure fair consumer practices
What are the circumstances which led the CMA to pursue court action against Viagogo?The key takeaway
The CMA’s decision to apply for a court order against Viagogo after it failed to comply with the CMA’s enforcement action shows the seriousness with which the CMA takes its enforcement actions. While the CMA suspended its preparations for future court action in light of remedial measures taken by Viagogo, this scenario shows just how far the CMA will go to protect consumers from regulatory breaches.
The CMA issued enforcement action against Viagogo after it found that the secondary ticket seller had been engaging in unfair consumer practices. Viagogo agreed to take action in relation to the issues raised by the CMA without the need for a trial. However, after Viagogo failed to remedy the problems, the CMA sought a court order. In particular, the court order specified that, before mid-January 2019, Viagogo must:
- not provide misleading information about the availability and popularity of tickets (thereby influencing consumer behaviour)
- make is easier for consumers to get money back under Viagogo’s guarantee
- be transparent with consumers by informing them if there is a risk they might be refused entry at the door
- tell consumers which seat they will get
- inform the consumer about who the ticket seller is so that consumers can benefit from enhanced legal rights if the seller is a business and prevent the sale of tickets a seller may not own
- make sure that consumers are aware of the face value of tickets.
By July 2019 Viagogo had not done enough to comply with the court order. Consequently, after repeated warnings, the CMA put Viagogo on notice that it was going to pursue action for contempt of court.
Having been put on notice, Viagogo started to take the remedial actions outlined in the court order. This prompted the CMA to announce via press release in early September this year that it was suspending preparations for court action relating to contempt of court.
In October this year, a further review will be undertaken to evaluate Viagogo’s compliance with the court order. The CMA has announced that, if the results of the review are not satisfactory at this stage, it will not hesitate to take further action, including court action, if necessary.
Why is this important?
The Viagogo scenario is an indication of the lengths to which the CMA will go to in order to ensure that its enforcement actions are taken seriously.
Any practical tips?
Don’t underestimate the CMA’s interest in protecting consumer rights, especially when it comes to potential pricing infringements. The Viagogo proceedings show that once it clamps its regulatory jaws around your leg, it won’t let go!