Knights and state government warn fans after resale site Viagogo targets Newcastle

By , 25/04/2020 19:38

RIPPED OFF: Glendale man David Butler is warning sports fans to stay away from ticket website Viagogo after he paid more than he should have for two tickets to a Newcastle Knights game. Picture: Marina NeilTHE Newcastle Knights have warned footy fans ofa ticketing scam affecting both home and away games.

It comes after Knights v Manly tickets ended up for sale on unauthorised ticket resale website Viagogo – a Swiss-based website subject to astate government warning for its “unfair and unsatisfactory” sales tactics.

The company’s intervention in the Newcastle sporting market has increased in line with the performance of the Jets and the hype of this year’s rugby league season.

Viagogo often appears at the top of Google searches because it pays for Google Ads.

On its website, the company is marketing tickets for sale until the end of the Knights draw – games scheduled to kick off in September are falsely billed as having “only a few tickets left”.

Tickets are also being marketed for sale until the end of the Jets season.Officials said the strong push marks a significant break from the company’s previous “sporadic” interest in Newcastle.

As it was explained to the NewcastleHerald, the company is known to operate in two ways: the first through junior tickets marketed as general admission, and the second by selling one ticket tomultiple customers.

Tickets bought on the website are often priced substantially higher than those bought at the box office or through Ticketmaster –the official ticket agency of both sporting teams.

Glendale man David Butler said he was caught “hook, line and sinker” by the website earlier this week after buying tickets for the Knights v Rabbitohs game in Newcastle in May.

Ticket resale website Viagogo has made a strong push into the Newcastle sporting market after the success of the Jets and anticipation surrounding the Knights’ season. Picture: Darren Pateman/AAP

Mr Butler – who does not regularly attend Knights games – searched for tickets on Google before landing on Viagogo’s website.

He said the tickets seemed expensive at $81 a seat but purchased them becausethe game was marketed as nearly sold-out.

The website deducted the equivalent of $244.48 in Russian currency from Mr Butler’s bank account.

On visiting the box office, he was informed the tickets were junior admission only.

“It’s a trap for unsuspecting Novocastrians,” he said.

Frustrating the situation,the website is ranked first in Google’s search results under the search term “Buy Newcastle Knights tickets”.

Knights boss Phil Gardner urged fans to buy only tickets through Ticketmaster, viathe club or at the stadium.

“The last thing we want is for our fans to be ripped off buying tickets that aren’t valid for games, or paying inflated prices for tickets they could have purchased at face value,”he said.

A Google spokeswoman said the company took “immediate action” against websites that breach its advertising standards, but Viagogo remains at the top of search results even after the first public warning in August last year.

Better Regulation Minister Matt Kean said Viagogo “continues to dominate” the Fair Trading complaints register.

“I’ve issued a public warning to consumers about the Swiss-based platform, and that warning still stands,” he said.

He said tougher ticket scalping laws come into effect in June.

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