The Hungarian Competition Authority, the GVH has initiated a competition supervision proceeding against Viagogo AG for an alleged infringement of the prohibition of unfair commercial practices in relation to consumers.
The GVH initiated a competition supervision proceeding on 9 December 2019 due to a number of notifications that it had received about Viagogo AG (hereinafter: Viagogo). These notifications related to, on the one hand, the undertaking’s allegedly unfair commercial practices and, on the other hand, a number of its other practices giving rise to civil litigation falling outside of the GVH’s competence.
In its proceeding the GVH will investigate whether Viagogo has been engaged in misleading commercial practices since 1 January 2019 in relation to the prices that have to paid by consumers for tickets sold on its website https://www.viagogo.com/hu. It is alleged that the undertaking has been failing to inform the purchasers of tickets on its website about the final prices of tickets in a timely manner; furthermore, it is alleged that the undertaking has been failing to disclose information about the conversion rate and the exchange rate calculation.
Furthermore, it is suspected that Viagogo publishes information on its webpage throughout the whole purchasing process urging consumers to buy the listed tickets (for example, “7 viewers in the past hour” or “Currently less than 4% of all tickets are available on our website”, “Please note that these tickets are not going to be available again if you miss them”), which due to their content and visuals give customers the general impression that available tickets for the listed events are selling out fast because there is a high level of interest in the events and reservations are continuously being made.
Furthermore, the GVH will investigate if Viagogo is meeting the requirements of professional diligence, given the fact that the undertaking does not clarify on its website if it maintains a sales management platform interposed between buyer and seller or if it is also active as a seller; moreover, it gives the impression that it has no influence on the prices applied on the website while at the same time the undertaking probably also sells tickets on its own behalf and is able to influence sales prices through a system of charges and administration fees.
The initiation of the competition supervision proceeding does not presume any breach of competition rules by the undertaking. The proceeding has been initiated in order to clarify the facts of the case and to prove the alleged infringement. The administrative time limit for the completion of the proceeding is three months which, where justified, may be extended on two occasions by a maximum of two months each.
The official registration number of the case: Vj/42/2019.
Last year in one of its press releases published just before the holiday season the GVH recommended that consumers pay increased attention when purchasing tickets online also in order to avoid disappointments.
The competition authority reiterates the suggestions made to the visitors of secondary ticketing sites namely that increased attention should be paid to any additional charges that may arise (for example administration fees), their extent, and to the need to bear in mind the cost changes arising from currency conversion.
In order to provide consumers with proper information undertakings selling tickets online can be expected to strive to provide complete and transparent information for consumers about the prices of events, the calculation methods used and possibilities for consumers of putting forward legal claims also by making use of technological possibilities.
Budapest, 19 December 2019
Hungarian Competition Authority
Telephone: (+36-30) 180-2060