A Glasgow MSP has joined the fight against online ticketing site Viagogo after a constituent was duped into paying five times over the odds for tickets which should have cost just £130.
Ellen McCann, 59, had planned a family trip to see show ‘Seven Drunken Nights: the Story of the Dubliners’ in Glasgow as a treat for her 60th birthday, but only found the tickets available on Viagogo when she put the name of the show into a search engine.
Told by the site that only six tickets were left, she panicked and snapped up the seats, forking out a total of £644, including £150 in booking fees.
But when her brother stepped in a day later to see if there was any way he could buy extra tickets for other family members, he found plenty available on the theatre’s own booking site for just £20 each.
The promoters of the show are now to arrange for her to meet the show’s stars as compensation towards the situation after they were contacted by SNP MSP Bob Doris - and have agreed to honour her tickets.
Ms McCann, a civil servant from Maryhill, Glasgow, said: “I was tricked into paying what is half a month’s salary for me on the tickets. We had set our hearts on going as a treat for my birthday as we all love The Dubliners and I just panicked when I saw that there were only a few left and paid what they were asking, then realised what I had done. I can’t believe that they are allowed to get away with this, it’s a rip off.”
MSP Mr Doris said: “It appears that what Viagogo has done is perfectly legal, but the scourge of these secondary sale sites impacts on many consumers. There should be a system in the UK which stops what most people would regard as scammers from exploiting the community.”
He added: “We hope our constituent enjoys a special day despite all of this.”
Viagogo last month came under fire from MPs, who took the unusual step of urging consumers to boycott the site. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee criticised Viagogo for “misleading” consumers, many of whom found the site through paid-for ads on Google. Last year, the site pledged it would start displaying ticket prices including VAT and booking fees upfront in a bid to clean up its act.
Eleanor Snow, Which? consumer rights editor, said: “We have repeatedly exposed Viagogo as a rogue operator for flouting consumer law and we would advise people to avoid it at all costs.
“If you are looking to buy a ticket from a secondary ticketing website, be mindful that it may be at a hugely inflated price and you will need to check whether the event you are attending accepts tickets that have been resold.”
Producers of the show have now arranged a “meet and greet” with the stars of the show for Ms McCann and her family.
Ross Mills, director of Prestige Productions, said: “We were extremely disheartened to hear about Ellen’s experience booking tickets for our forthcoming show, Seven Drunken Nights –
The Story of The Dubliners at Glasgow Kings Theatre. After being brought to our attention by her local MSP, Bob Doris, we have been working closely with them to ensure that Ellen has a wonderful experience at our show on her birthday, as she, like many other people, booked the tickets in good faith.
“We are working with venues and promoters across the country to do what we can to avoid ticket resale scams at all shows.”
A spokeswoman for Viagogo said: "It is our aim to make information as clear as possible. viagogo does not set ticket prices, sellers set their own prices, which may be above or below the original face value. Where demand is high and tickets are limited, prices increase."