Patrick McKendry is a rugby and boxing writer for the Herald.

Website offers two Lions-All Blacks tickets for $3220

All Blacks Captain Kieran Read. Photo / Greg Bowker
All Blacks Captain Kieran Read. Photo / Greg Bowker

A controversial website based in Switzerland is offering tickets for all three of the All Blacks v British and Irish Lions tests at nearly four times their face value.

Despite the fact that all three tests have long sold out according to New Zealand Rugby, the viagogo ticket website has a pair of category A tickets for the highly-anticipated first test at Auckland's Eden Park on June 24 listed at $3,220.69 (not including booking fee and value added tax).

The official price for a pair of category A tickets was $898, however, demand far exceeded supply, with 150,000 entries going into a ballot system for the three tests; the second is at Wellington's Westpac Stadium on July 1 and the third back at Eden Park on July 8.

In fact, the website is offering tickets for all 10 Lions' matches in New Zealand, despite the sold out signs going up on not only the three tests, but also the match against the Crusaders in Christchurch on June 10, which has also officially reached full house status.
Officially, there are only limited tickets available for the first match against the Provincial New Zealand Barbarians in Whangarei on June 3, the New Zealand Maori in Rotorua on June 17, and the Chiefs in Hamilton on June 20.

The viagogo website, founded in London in 2006 and which now has its headquarters in Geneva, is not illegal, but it has been criticised for its inflating of ticket prices and other activities.

As an on-selling service, it provides opportunities for buyers and sellers, many of whom are scalpers, and makes its money on the mark-up, plus booking fee.

Early this month a consumer affairs magazine lodged a complaint with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over viagogo's tactics, especially its claim that it is an official seller and that it offers consumer protection.

Choice Magazine spokesman Tom Godfrey told the ABC that both claims were questionable at best.

"We've caught out Viagogo advertising one price and then dripping in unavoidable fees and charges at the checkout. Which means you can't redeem the advertised price," he said.

"We've also found them advertising the cheapest tickets available, when in fact they're not the cheapest tickets available.

"It's illegal and it needs to be stamped out."

New Zealand Rugby has cautioned people from purchasing tickets from unofficial sources.

"We are disappointed there are websites out there, like Viagogo, selling tickets for the Series," said Lions tour manager Nigel Cass.

"Our strong message to fans is to keep away from these secondary ticketing sites or risk missing out."

"The only official places that tickets for the series can be purchased are nzlionsseries.com, All Blacks Hospitality, All Blacks Tours and Lions Rugby Travel for UK and Irish fans."

Viagogo has been approached by the Herald for comment.

- NZ Herald

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