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Viagogo boss dismisses controversy over business model

Photo: Gary Glaser/Shutterstock
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The boss of secondary ticketing site Viagogo has defended its controversial business model, claiming highly inflated resale prices are justified if the market is there for them.

Managing director Cris Miller also apologised for not attending a parliamentary inquiry into secondary ticketing practice, admitting his absence was “clearly a mistake” and a “naive and immature” decision.

In an interview with ITV News – Viagogo’s first in two years – Miller said that despite the backlash against the company, he felt “very comfortable” with its business model, in which it acts as an online marketplace to resell tickets for entertainment and sporting events, including high-profile and sold-out West End shows.

It has repeatedly been criticised for allowing seats to be listed for multiple times the face value, and enabling the proliferation of online touts who scoop up tickets to sell on and restrict access for genuine audiences.

Miller said he believed that “if someone buys a ticket, they have the right to resell it”.

“We’re providing the marketplace, we don’t dictate the prices. We just allow the market to take place. We step in the middle to make sure everything goes ok,” he said, adding: “If I’m a buyer and I want to go to the Champions League final, and I want to spend €10,000, I think I should have an opportunity to be able to go.”

He also claimed the situation for ticket buyers was worse before Viagogo came into existence in 2006.

“We step in and clean the market up and actually do a lot better job than people give us credit for to make sure that customers actually get the tickets that they purchase,” Miller said.

Miller conceded that failing to attend a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry into secondary ticketing in 2017 had been a mistake, and said: “We simply were naive and immature and got that wrong. We didn’t really understand and appreciate the importance of what that DCMS inquiry was about. Looking back on it, it was clearly a mistake and we apologise for it.”

He claimed that not appearing at a later inquiry had been down to the company’s legal situation with the Competition and Markets Authority, which last year issued court proceedings against the company for not complying with a transparency order.

Miller also criticised event organisers and promoters who he said seek “a monopoly” over ticketing by banning seats that have been bought via a resale site.

“I think it’s about control over the tickets – it’s about making sure they have a monopoly over their event and making sure that, from start to finish, they are the ones that are maintaining control.

“The resale market is inevitable and so we’re just providing that platform for people to get in. We don’t understand why certain event organisers think that they should harass customers about where they buy their ticket,” he said.

Tickets for West End shows such as Hamilton continue to be listed on Viagogo despite anti-tout measures being introduced and producers warning that audience members with resold tickets will not be admitted. Last month, tickets for the forthcoming West End run of Fleabag, a 60-minute one-woman show, were being listed for nearly £600.

Hamilton producers claim paperless ticketing system has ‘all but eliminated touts’

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