The Austrian Supreme Court [Oberste Gerichtshof or OGH) has ruled that a total of 42 clauses used in the purchase contracts by the Swiss-based secondary market ticket seller Viagogo are ‘unlawful’.
According to the country’s Association for Consumer Information [der Verein für Konsumenteninformation or VKI] the Supreme Court’s decision is legally binding, says reporting by the Austrian newspaper Der Standard.
Viagogo operates an international buying and selling secondary market platform for tickets for sports and music events, between ticket sellers and prospective buyers. It operates a German-language website under the top-level domain ‘at’.
According to Der Standard:
‘One of the clauses found to be unlawful provided that if the seller does not deliver the purchased tickets, the Viagogo platform may decide at its own discretion whether to offer the consumer replacement tickets at a comparable price or to refund the ticket price. The OGH judged the clause to be unlawful. "Customers must be given the opportunity to get back the amount paid in such a case, and not only if Viagogo decides not to offer replacement tickets," Beate Gelbmann, pictured, head of the complaints department at VKI, said, according to a statement.’
In addition Der Standard said the Supreme Court ‘confirmed the illegality of a clause that excludes a refund of the ticket price if the ticket is not delivered to the customer for any reason. According to this clause, a refund of the ticket price would also be excluded in those cases where the reason for the failed delivery was not with the customer but with Viagogo.’
Great article from @legrandnetwork on the recent ruling that Viagogo must sell off Stubhub’s ticketing business outside of North America.— FEAT (@FEAT_org) February 10, 2021
Including contribution from FEAT’s founding partner @SamShemtob & @FanFairAlliance’s @adjwebb
Read more 👉 https://t.co/1lnSU8Ceds pic.twitter.com/sW7Tk3QdX3
In another hammer blow for Viagogo, another provision that was knocked down is that all sales were final: ‘so there were no refunds and no exchanges for partial fulfilment or on loss. The clause could be understood to mean that the buyer had no claim even if a ticket was lost through Viagogo's fault. This put customers at a gross disadvantage, the court ruled,’ according to Der Standard.
And in a final and perhaps most devastating ruling: ‘A clause stating that Swiss law applied to contracts with Viagogo and that the courts of Switzerland had jurisdiction was also unlawful. "If an entrepreneur specifically targets consumers in Austria, then they cannot be deprived of the protection of Austrian consumer law. Consumers can therefore also sue before an Austrian court in the event of a dispute," Gelbmann said.’
The Austrian court ruling caps a miserable month for the not-very-loved secondary market platform. After buying StubHub for more than USD4 billion last year, UK competition regulators order Viagogo to sell all of StubHub's business outside North America to satisfy competition concerns.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the deal meant a ‘substantial reduction in competition’ in the UK secondary ticketing market.
The CMA decision will mean that StubHub's international business - which includes the UK - will be independently owned and run by a separate company, with no input from Viagogo, the authority added.
In the UK, Viagogo and StubHub are the two main providers of secondary ticketing platforms. Together, they have a combined market share of more than 90%.