Tickets to Bay of Plenty theatre shows have shown up on controversial ticket reselling website Viagogo for over double the box office sale price, local theatres say.
Tickets to the stage show Cats were listed for an astronomical $419.19. The price when bought through the Baycourt box office ranged between $79.90 and $139.
Other shows affected included Leaving Jackson, Rhythms of Ireland and Post Modern Jukebox.
Baycourt manager James Wilson said the prices listed on Viagogo for shows at this theatre made his "eyes water".
People who did not go to the theatre often were the most susceptible to paying inflated prices for tickets, Wilson said.
Aside from the price inflation, in Wilson's view, customers felt pressured to buy tickets because they were claiming there were limited when he was aware there were plenty of tickets remaining.
"If you're a big fan and really want to go [to a show], it's easy to fall into that trap of thinking there are only a few tickets left."
The theatre first became aware of the issues involving its shows when patrons came to the theatre and realised they had paid well above the box office price.
Some of the tickets bought from the site were also invalid, Wilson said.
The theatre had managed to fit people with invalid tickets into the shows, but it was still a bad look for the theatre, Wilson said, as the responsibility fell on its shoulders to accommodate patrons while the "faceless Viagogo is nowhere to be seen."
Viagogo was marketed as a way for people to genuinely on-sell tickets when they could not attend the event.
Wilson, however, said in his view it is hard to believe that this is the case, as tickets for the Bay of Plenty productions were listed so quickly after a show was announced.
Aside from affected patrons having a damper put on their evening, Wilson was worried it might have a bigger impact and put patrons off coming to shows or put promoters off bringing shows to Tauranga.
"It makes promoters think twice before bringing their shows to Tauranga, which means we all miss out," he said.
Tauranga Musical Theatre president Elise Rhode said the community theatre had also been affected by overpriced Viagogo tickets.
"It's pretty low to prey on community theatre."
She first became aware of the issue back in 2016. Tickets to the theatre's production of Mamma Mia show were listed on Viagogo for around $150, when the actual price stood at $55.
It was also wrongly claimed on Viagogo that the show was sold out, presumably to pressure buyers to rush into buying tickets, she said.
Rhode said it was widely known Viagogo was not a reliable place to buy tickets and with no way of stopping it, the theatre had tried to notify people about the situation.
The immense advertising power of Viagogo was a force the New Zealand arts community could not hope to tackle, so getting the word out was the best option, she said.
Consumer CEO Sue Chetwin said the watchdog advised people to not buy from Viagogo as the ticket prices were likely to be overpriced, and possibly fraudulent.
"People should go to the official seller and get legitimate tickets for a reasonable price," she said.
Viagogo said in a statement it provides a platform for third-party sellers to sell tickets to event goers and that it 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," said the press office representative.
Viagogo, a Switzerland-based company, has faced hundreds of complaints from Kiwis over its selling practices and Commerce Commission is suing it, and has alleged it has made false representations to its customers.
The Commission sought an injunction preventing Viagogo from making claims about ticket scarcity, pricing and a guarantee of validity. The Commission alleges those claims are misleading.Lawyer for the commission, Nick Flanagan, told the High Court in Auckland last week that Viagogo was guilty of "extensive fraudulent behaviour - and the evidence is that it continues to the present time."
But Justice Patricia Courtney, in a decision released this week, ruled she had no jurisdiction to hear the injunction application at this stage because the commission has not formally served its case on Viagogo in Switzerland.
There was no finding made on the substantive merits of the Commission's case, which will be heard at a later hearing.