Dear Reader, let me warn you about the dangers of trusting online companies that may offer a real service – but do not back it up with what you or I would regard as being the minimum of actual ‘customer service’ when things go wrong.
I refer in particular to Viagogo, who are (to paraphrase their claims in my terms) the world’s biggest ticket touts. If you want tickets to an otherwise sold-out event, they may have an expensive solution to your problem. Football season ticket holders or corporate ticket owners sell tickets they cannot use back to the club, and people who cannot go to a gig do likewise to the venue. The stadium takes a cut in selling it to Viagogo.
Thus it was that a lifelong Spain-resident Leicester City fan (yours truly) and a long-suffering partner bought tickets to see them play at Sevilla – where the face value of each ticket was €90 and I paid €242. The Viagogo site explains that you will get your tickets no later than 3 days before the event (tickets are often late in being provided to them, so fair enough) – but it does not specify if they mean 3 working days or 3 calendar days. They advise that they will use UPS – who do not actually operate in Spain – and no courier works at the weekend here. So for a Wednesday evening fixture, is the deadline Friday? When the tickets failed to arrive then, our attempts to call the phone number provided were rejected because Viagogo will not take your call until 72 hours before the event, and they do not work on Sunday evening…
We were due to leave for the 3-hour drive to Sevilla on Tuesday morning, so this was a major concern. On finally talking to someone on Monday morning, we arranged with them that the tickets would be delivered to our Sevilla hotel.
Arriving on Tuesday, we found the tickets were not there. Another call to Viagogo – apologies, said the man, they knew there was a problem, their guy was walking round Sevilla that day delivering the tickets. That evening we got a message from our cat-sitter – a courier (not UPS of course) had made an attempt to deliver to our house after we had left.
To cut a long story short, endless phone calls took place, neighbours weighed in to save the day, we had to meet a friend halfway to Sevilla to pick up the tickets, and we just made it to the match. The whole episode was atrociously handled, had cost us a lot of money and spoiled my special treat. I feel we are due some compensation.
But as I discovered, backed up by reading posts from a legion of other disgruntled Viagogo users, this ‘leading ticket agency’ has:
- no customer service email
- no working link on the website (if you are not within the 72 hour window)
- no phone number that works (they have changed the numbers frequently)
- and not even an official address that you can post to
I eventually tracked them down to an address in Holborn Viaduct, London and wrote a letter of complaint. Guess what? No reply and my registered letter was returned… And, since writing this I saw the One Show on TV track down Viagogo to another Cannon Street address which they had vacated months before, leaving all their furniture and a pile of mail including a summons to a House of Commons committee hearing!
What sort of company can afford to treat its customers so shabbily? At least I got my tickets (just) but you will find plenty of other cases on the web where they did not receive anything. How are they supposed to be recompensed?
In the course of pursuing Viagogo around the web I read that several football clubs have withdrawn their cooperation with the company. Maybe if enough disgruntled people write like this and make their feelings known, we can force the operation to make itself properly accountable, as any 21st Century business should be to its clients.