Google suspends Viagogo as advertiser after claims of inflated ticket sales

Rebecca Speare-Cole

Google has suspended ticket re-seller Viagogo as an advertiser, after claims touts resell tickets at inflated prices on the website.

The company said it would begin removing the adverts on Wednesday.

The decision comes after the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided earlier this month to take Viagogo to court, alleging it had not done enough to change its business practices.

In a statement on Wednesday, a Google spokeswoman said: “When people use our platform for help in purchasing tickets, we want to make sure that they have an experience they can trust.

"This is why we have strict policies and take necessary action when we find an advertiser in breach."

The CMA initially launched legal action against Viagogo in August last year, over concerns it was breaking consumer protection law.

In November, the court then ordered the ticketing website to make changes to its business practices in full by January 17.

These changes included informing customers which seat they would get as well as warning them of any risk of them being turned away at the door.

However, the CMA announced in March 2019 that it was launching contempt of court action amid claims the website was still not compliant with certain aspects of the order.

Viagogo responded by committing to make further improvements to its website.

Last year MPs, the Football Association and the trade body UK Music also signed an open letter to Google executives in a bid to stop the ticketing website from advertising.

The open letter said: "In effect, one of the world's most trusted brands - Google - is being paid to actively promote one of the least trusted."

It went on: "We understand that Viagogo is a valuable client to Google, spending considerable sums each year on paid search advertising.

"However, we urge you to protect consumers who daily put their trust in Google, and act now to restrict Viagogo's ability to pay for prominence."

A Viagogo spokeswoman said: "We were extremely surprised to learn of Google's concerns today.

"We are confident that there has been no breach of Google's policies and look forward to working with them to resolve this as quickly as possible."