Google dismisses calls to remove dodgy ads

(Australian Associated Press)

Google has dismissed calls for it to crack down on online ticket resellers amid claims too many consumers are getting ripped off.

The online search engine giant, ticket companies, event promoters and venues are being urged by consumer group Choice to help stop people from being tricked by misleading ads for ticket resale websites.

A Choice study of 1051 complaints from Australian, New Zealand and British ticket buyers found three quarters of them thought they had bought their tickets from an official online seller rather than a resale website.

Choice says a big part of the problem is that search engines including Google allow resale websites to place paid links above official ticket sale sites, creating confusion for buyers who are often overcharged and then can’t use the tickets.

But Google insists all ads it hosts are vetted and approved in line with the search engine’s policies.

“Users can lodge complaints if they believe an advertiser breaches these policies and all complaints are investigated,” a spokesperson said.

“Ads that violate our terms and conditions will be removed.”

Viagogo, TicketmasterResale, Seatwave and Stubhub were behind most of the complaints by Australians, the Choice study found.

Sydney woman Faye Buxton was turned away from a Minecraft event in July after being told the “overpriced” tickets she bought on Viagogo were invalid.

“I couldn’t find any contact details for them on their website … and then was told they would use my feedback to better their customer service,” she said.

More than 2800 tickets to the Ashes Test were recovered by Cricket Australia last week after they were being sold online on eBay in breach of CA rules.

Tickets to Falls Festival also sold out on Tuesday, and it wasn’t long before $339 four-day passes were advertised on Viagogo for up to $4520 each.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey says search engines need to ensure ads for ticket resale sites don’t include misleading claims about being official.

He wants resellers to make it clear to buyers they are a secondary market website and be made to state each ticket’s details including the venue, seat, original price and any restrictions.

Viagogo, which resells unwanted tickets to big-name concerts and sporting events, is facing action in the Federal Court for allegedly misleading or deceptive conduct.

The company’s website says it’s a marketplace rather than a ticket seller, insisting “all transactions are between the buyers and sellers.”

Stubhub chief executive Scott Cutler said about half the tickets on the site were listed by genuine consumers wishing to resell their tickets.


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