Thursday, October 18, 2012

Beware of online ticket seller viagogo UPDATED

Beware of online ticket seller viagogo

If you usually buy your concert tickets online, never buy them via viagogo.

Viagogo serves mostly European countries, as they have French, Italian, English and German websites but I am sure that they also sell globally because I saw a site for the United States, too.

And their website says: "Buy and Sell Tickets 100% safe and guaranteed."

Let me tell you our story

We bought three Empore tickets at 59 Euro each for a Luca Hänni concert in Capitol Mannheim through viagogo on July 14, 2012. Our tickets were confirmed through an e-mail which we received a few minutes after buying them online. They also informed us in the same e-mail that:
Tickets werden vom Veranstalter oftmals erst kurz vor dem Veranstaltungsdatum verschickt, weshalb Sie mit dem Erhalt Ihrer Tickets 3-5 Tage vor der Veranstaltung rechnen können. Wir informieren Sie mit einer E-Mail, sobald Ihre Karten auf dem Weg zu Ihnen sind. Verfolgen Sie den Weg Ihrer Tickets hier.
A rough translation: Tickets are normally sent by the organizer a few days before the event, please expect to receive your tickets 3-5 days before the event.

Now, my husband was already a bit dubious from the start. He told me we should have received the tickets as soon as the money transfer is done which was two days after the transaction online. Or, we would receive a copy of our tickets for print-out which is what normal procedure in most online sellers.

Maybe I am sometimes too trusthworthy or just plain stupid, but I believed viagogo. After all, the concert is still on October 11, there are still a few months left which I refused to spend worrying. Anyway, I also checked the reviews on viagogo in the web and I didn't find anything suspicious.

My husband reminded me again and again about our tickets from viagogo, I always told him everything would be okay as we are supposed to receive those tickets 3-5 days before the concert. Although I am becoming a bit skeptical myself.

On October 1, I received an automatic e-mail from viagogo saying the same blah-blah as above, that tickets would be delivered 3-5 days before the event. I forwarded it to my husband, trying to appease him although I am mostly trying to appease myself.

October 9, two days before the concert, there's still no tickets in our mailbox. Through their site's contact form, I sent my inquiries. I was answered with the usual 'thank you for your inquiries.... blah-blah'... I want our tickets so I sent around four queries through their contact form. 

And I kept on receiving the normal blah-blah that they are sorry that I am having problems, etc. etc. etc. But you see, I want my tickets so I kept on sending more queries via viagogo's contact form. 

On October 10, a day before the concert, I received an email:
wir schreiben Ihnen bezüglich Ihrer Transaktion --- für das Event Luca Hänni am 11/10/2012. 

Leider hat uns Ihr Verkäufer mittgeteilt, dass er die Transaktion nicht erfüllen kann.
Sie sind jedoch durch unsere Garantie geschützt.
Wir haben unser Bestes versucht für Sie Ersatzkarten zu finden.
Die Karten welche wir für Sie als Ersatz anbieten können sind Stehplätze. 
Da wir diese Karten reservieren nicht können, bitten wir Sie uns umgehend Bescheid zu geben, ob die für Sie in Frage kommen.
Hierfür klicken Sie bitte auf den unteren Kontaktlink.
Sie können uns auch unter der Rufnummer 089 2109 4824 erreichen.
Sollten Sie bereits eine vollständige Rückerstattung möchten, geben Sie uns bitte umgehend Bescheid.
Wir entschuldigen uns nochmals für die entstandenen Unannehmlichkeiten.

We are writing about your transaction  for Luca Hänni on 11/10/2012. Unfortunately, your seller informed us that he cannot fulfill the transaction. However, you are protected by our guarantee. We tried our best to find you alternative tickets but we can only offer Standing Room Only tickets. Please let us know if you want us to book these tickets or if you want a full refund. You can also reach us by calling 089 2109 4824.

Finally, they provided us a phone number. I am becoming frustrated from the slow exchanges through email; especially as I noticed that I have sent so many e-mails and the answers were slow in coming, in fact, in the end, I am not getting those automatic e-mails anymore -- which made me very, very angry.

It was my husband who took the matter in his hands and called; which turned into frustration because there's nobody on the phone but machines who repond only when someone taps the right number. 

By this time, I am already horribly in panic because I can see the girls preparing themselves excitedly for the concert; even creating a poster which they plan to bring to the concert. How could I tell them that we don't have tickets and that there is a big chance that we cannot watch the concert at all? 

They would be devastated. And I refuse to do that to them. I didn't tell them anything until I have an answer.

I sent emails through the contact form, telling them that I have two girls, ages 8 and 10, who might not be able to survive watching a concert standing up; and I also informed them that this is the first time that girls are to be watching a concert -- I want them to have a great time.

Do you think those words would provide the miracle? Of course not, I received another e-mail around 4 p.m. a day before the concert, this time in English because I was already in a rage and could not think using the German language anymore:

We apologise for the delay in receiving your tickets. viagogo is a marketplace that relies on individual sellers to provide the tickets that they are selling. We make every effort to ensure that buyers receive their tickets in time for the event. However, in exceptional circumstances the seller may be unable to provide the tickets sold.

In this case, we have contacted your seller, and have been informed that they have not received the tickets. As per our guarantee we have already started to look for suitable replacement tickets for you, and if we cannot locate any, we will proceed with a full refund. 

It would be helpful for us if you could inform us of your flexibility regarding the seating location, as it would make the chances of us finding replacement tickets for you more likely. You can inform us of this either by emailing us using the contact us link below, or calling us on +44 (0)845 862 3670, 8am-8pm Mon-Sun (GMT).

If you would like a refund immediately, please also let us know so we can proceed with this. Please note that in the meantime, we will do our utmost to locate replacement tickets for you. 

Do you get that? They rely on individual sellers, INDIVIDUAL SELLERS!!! Okay, my husband was concerned about getting our money back. I told them I would concentrate on demanding for refund later, what I want to focus on is getting alternative tickets. It was already 6 p.m., so I decided to calm down and think, think, think!!

The next day, we have no internet connection from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. because of an emergency electricity repair in our wires and cables. Can you believe my agitation? There's nothing we can do, we have no phones, no internet, no nothing. 

But as soon as everything were functioning normally, my husband called the venue directly and asked for possible tickets. He told them about our experience with viagogo and they replied by saying 'oh, you were also victimized!!!' 

Good thing I heard those words after he informed me that he has reserved SRO tickets for us. Or else I think I would have exploded, grrr.

Now, for the love of my kids, I decided to go to the concert on SRO because the venue is good enough for kids as young as my IC and MC, in fact, there's going to be kids as young as 4-year-old coming to the concert having SRO tickets. That's what the seller in the venue said and I wanted to believe her. 

I chose to believe her because I was really horribly disappointed with viagogo.

Let me tell you, as soon as we saw the phone numbers:  089 2109 4824, my husband checked it in the net and what I read there made me afraid, very, very afraid. 

Here are some samples of what our search came up with:

abzoge (rip-off) "hatte mich zwar vorher informiert und da ich auch gute komentare gelesen habe keine gedanken gemacht.. jetzt stellt sich aber raus viagogo ist ne abzoge.." the person said that despite having read good comments about viagogo, he/she realized that it is a rip-off

erfahrungen lists some experiences with viagogo which states that viagogo is only a platform for individual sellers and there are no guarantees

UPDATE: I saw this online via Spiegel Online, dated 080.08.2011Die Online-Plattform Viagogo sieht aus wie eine Vorverkaufsstelle für Musikkonzerte und Fußballspiele im Internet. Ist sie aber nicht. Die englische Firma ist nur der virtuelle Treffpunkt, an dem Kartenverkäufer und Käufer einen Deal abschließen. Und hinterher ist der Käufer oft der Dumme: Denn auf Viagogo erstandenen Tickets sind offenbar oftmals nicht nur überteuert, sondern auch noch ungültig.

Translation: The online platform Viagogo looks like a ticket agency for music concerts and football games on the internet. It is not. The British company is a virtual meeting place for ticket sellers and buyers. And afterwards, the buyer is often the loser and Viagogo tickets are apparently often not only overpriced, but also invalid because the tickets are not personalized, meaning, they should ba named after the buyer.

There's something funny, too, because when we searched viagogo's number 089 2109 4824 on October 11 -- there were a lot of English sites that came up, including forums which long discussions on what a rip-off viagogo is and filled with disappointed customers because they were not able to attend the events that they have booked and excitedly looked forward to. (I wrote this post on October 14 and I can only find these German sites and no other.)

That's what irritates me, how could they do that? Sell those tickets, confirm them, take the money and in the end, I really mean, in the end -- because we only received information that we don't have a ticket a day before the concert itself, they would tell us if we want a refund???

I wonder, too. Do they manipulate the searches on their site so that the reviews that would come out would the positive ones? Could be, because when I checked the reviews on the site in July, I found nothing bad about them, as with the others in the links I have given.

So please be warned. Do not use viagogo.

By the way, about our refund? We received an e-mail from viagogo about our refund on October 11 that we would get our money after four working days. My husband wanted to make sure that our money would be returned so he asked our bank to return the direct debit.

Last Monday, 16 October, my husband checked our account and saw that our money's there but my husband cannot be sure if it came from our bank or from viagogo. 

So there, please be warned!

Now, if viagogo tries to block this post....

Image above taken from viagogo website.

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