The ASB Classic is taking on controversial ticket re-selling site Viagogo after several punters were allegedly sold fake and overpriced tickets.

It comes as the Commerce Commission seeks an injunction to prevent the Swiss-based company trading in New Zealand following over 600 complaints since 2014.

ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge said several people contacted them who had bought fake tickets on Viagogo to the event, which runs from December 31, 2018, to January 12, 2019, in Auckland.

As those tickets were for already sold-out sections there was nothing they could do as organisers, Budge said.


"When it is sold out we simply have no tickets to give them.

"When this happens everyone gets hurt. We are a non-profit organisation and everything we make here goes back into things like school tennis.

"If someone buys a fake ticket fans lose money and are disappointed they miss out. It also hurts our reputation."

The ASB Classic website had since put up a banner alert warning people to only purchase their tickets through the official agent Ticketek, not "un-authorised re-sellers including Viagogo as we cannot guarantee authenticity".

When the Herald Google searched for "ASB Classic tickets" on Thursday the first result to appear was an advertisement to buy the tickets from the Viagogo website. Nowhere in the advertisement did it state the website was a ticket reseller and not the official seller.

A Google search result showing Viagogo's advertisement as the top result. Photo / Google
A Google search result showing Viagogo's advertisement as the top result. Photo / Google

This appeared to go against Google's policy introduced in February, which said only certified ticket resellers could advertise on its search engine. Its code of conduct required a company not imply it was the original provider of the ticket, disclose all fees and show the original price of a ticket alongside whatever price is being pitched for the second-hand sale.

When the Herald searched for two identical tickets on both websites the prices were grossly different.

A ground pass adult ticket to the opening session of the women's event on December 31 on Ticketek cost $18.50. On Viagogo it was priced at $256, and this was without any added fees.


There was also text in red stating there were just three tickets left. It was possible to buy four of the same tickets on Ticketek.

Budge said these tactics could stop some people from attending.

"People might think it has sold out and then tell their friends and then they all decide not to attend.

"The whole industry needs to come together to tackle this head on."

Overall ticket sales had been "tracking well", with about 60 per cent sold so far across both the women's and men's events.

"We have sold out some of the premium sections and towards the back end of the week tickets are selling fast. But there are still some really good opportunities to come out early in the week, when you will be guaranteed to see the stars in the opening round."

The Commerce Commission has received over 600 complaints about Viagogo since 2014.

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.

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.

In August the commission followed up in filing civil proceedings against Viagogo in the High Court, alleging multiple breaches of the Fair Trading Act and seeking a trading injunction.

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 their "most complained about trader".

The watchdog encourages consumers to keep filing complaints (via this page).

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 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.