The ploys used by controversial ticket re-selling site Viagogo have been revealed in court documents before a hearing on February 5 to prevent the company trading in New Zealand.
The Commerce Commission has received nearly 600 complaints about the Swiss company since July 18, 2016, and announced in August it was suing it under the Fair Trading Act and seeking a trading injunction.
A Commerce Commission spokesman told the Herald the hearing had been set for February 5 in the Auckland High Court.
It comes as ASB Classic organisers this week issued a warning to fans not to purchase tickets through "unauthorised re-sellers", including Viagogo, after allegations of fake and overpriced tickets being sold.
The Herald found the same tickets advertised on the official ASB Classic seller Ticketek for $18.50 were advertised for $256 on Viagogo, with representations they were selling out, when they were not.
Other complaints have related to tickets for various sporting events, and concerts by acts including Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, Shania Twain and Bruno Mars.
Even smaller acts have been subjected to alleged rip-offs. Last month, a Rotorua amateur theatre company was shocked to discover two tickets to one of its shows that should have cost $32 were onsale on Viagogo for $232.36.
Viagogo told the Herald any tickets sold on its platform were "genuine tickets that have been sold on by the original ticket purchaser in good faith".
"Event organisers sometimes make claims that they will deny entry to people who have purchased resold tickets.
"These types of entry restrictions are highly unfair and in our view, unenforceable and illegal."
Viagogo said customers should "feel confident that they will gain entry to the event, and that is why we back every ticket with the Viagogo guarantee".
In court documents, the commission alleges Viagogo represented tickets for events in New Zealand were in short supply when they were not, that tickets prices did not show the "significant unavoidable fees", and that it could not guarantee the validity of tickets sold.
The commission had received 79 complaints about people buying invalid tickets and not being provided replacements between July 18, 2016 and November 29 this year.
One consumer purchased a ticket to the Electric Avenue Music Festival in Christchurch, but later found out from the official ticketing agent their ticket was invalid.
The customer made a claim with Viagogo under the guarantee, but was told the guarantee did not apply where the consumer had checked the ticket validity with the venue before the day of the event.
Viagogo then invited the consumer to re-list the ticket on the website.
Examples of the "scarcity representations" include on October 26, when Viagogo said there were "only 16 tickets left" for a performance of The Nutcracker in December, when there were at least 382 tickets available at the time, 40 per cent of capacity.
Viagogo said there was just one ticket left to a performance of Peter Pan Goes Wrong in November 2018, when there were 473 tickets available.
Misrepresentations of price included a fan who purchased a ticket to a match in the 2017 British & Irish Lions Tour, offered initially at $233.48, before Viagogo fees brought it to $329.15. Another rugby fan was buying a ticket to an All Blacks match, offered at $342.63, but was charged $444.91 after Viagogo's fees.
The commission also alleges Viagogo made out in Google Advertisements it was an official ticket seller for particular events.
From at least July 18, 2016, to on or about November 23, 2017, when Google stopped ticket re-sellers using the word "official", Viagogo made representations featuring the name of the event, followed by the words "Buy Now, viagogo Official site".
In March, the commission issued a public warning titled "Consumers need to seriously consider if buying from Viagogo is worth the risk," noting it was investigating alleged incidents of fake tickets being sold, or the same ticket being sold multiple times.
The regulator also noted complaints about hidden fees and misrepresented pricing and "consumers never receiving the tickets they purchased and being unable to get hold of Viagogo to receive a refund".
It said Viagogo's conflict resolution process - which calls for aggrieved customers to work through a Swiss court - was unreasonable.
As it launched its legal action, the regulator noted Viagogo also faces court or enforcement action in Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, the UK and Australia. It has been fined in Italy and sued by Fifa.
In an October update, the commission said Viagogo had become its "most complained about trader".
The watchdog encourages consumers to keep filing complaints (via this page).
In response to questions from the Herald about its support for Viagogo and reports of customers buying fake tickets, a Google spokesman said users could lodge complaints and the company would "investigate accordingly".
A spokesman for the Commerce Commission said it would not be commenting on any actions by Viagogo nor Google while their case was before the courts.