Ripped off: Elton John fan devastated by ticket scammers
WHEN Catherine Tompson was a teenager, Sir Elton John was the only poster she ever had on her bedroom wall.
The die-hard fan believes life is not complete until you've seen Sir Elton John live in concert and with that in mind, she jumped at the chance to see the music star perform in Mackay as part of his regional tour later this month.
As soon as tickets were released, the Brisbane mum logged on to Sweden-based ticketing website ViaGoGo, purchased tickets for herself and her daughter and started counting down the days until she could see the music icon in the flesh.
But little did she know, it was all about to turn sour with revelations the Australian Competition and Consumer Authority (ACCC) is taking ticket re-selling website ViaGoGo to the Federal Court alleging it breached Australian consumer law when reselling entertainment, music, and live sport tickets this year after receiving close to 500 complaints so far this year.
The ACCC alleges ViaGoGo made false or misleading representations, and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct, regarding the price of tickets on its online platform by failing to disclose substantial fees.
Upon hearing news of the investigation, Ms Tompson checked her ViaGoGo account to discover she had been overcharged substantially.
"I ordered two tickets that would have cost roughly $500 in total and sat back and waited for them to come through," Ms Tompson said.
"I didn't really think much more about it but then I read all of the media coverage about ViaGoGo and managed to get into my account and look at the receipt and they have charged me initially $1500 and then cancelled my seats on the same days and re-issued different seats for 1200 pounds."
Ms Tompson said she immediately lodged a complaint with the ACCC, contacted her bank and tried to get in touch with ViaGoGo customers support.
"Any attempt to contact ViaGoGo is met with nothing. Every single thing you do refers back to their help centre on their website and that doesn't go anywhere," she said.
"I managed to get through to them via Twitter yesterday and they replied to say 'we are looking at your case'. There just seems to be nowhere to turn to. They have help lines but none of them are valid numbers.
"My bank say they can't do anything because its out of their 90 day period."
Promoters for the concert earlier this year warned fans not to buy tickets from unauthorised websites.
"The message to fans is, the only authorised ticket sales process is through Moshtix or the Chugg Entertainment website," concert promoter Matthew Lazarus-Hall said.
"(These resale websites) are not an authorised re-seller and any authorised sale process does not require putting in their credit card details."
With flights to Mackay booked along with accommodation, Ms Tompson said she is torn between cancelling everything or forking out extra money and trying to find legitimate tickets.
"In total I have already spent about $3000. At the moment I am swaying towards cancelling because I can't think of anything worse than sitting there in Mackay and looking at the fence," she said.
She said the concert was supposed to be a special mother-daughter trip to celebrate her daughter's 18th birthday.
"I had been saving up for ages. I thought he may not tour again as he is getting older and I just wanted my daughter to see this legend," she said.
"I am a single parent so this is a huge financial sacrifice for me to have considered going anyway.
"My daughter is absolutely gutted. We have been looking forward to it since April. She has been in tears. It was going to be so special."
A quick scan of the ViaGoGo website shows tickets are still being sold on the site for the Elton John event in Mackay and Ms Thompson wanted to warn potential customers of the risks.
"I also just want to warn other people because it's just awful. Anyone who has bought them through ViaGoGo is at risk of not having tickets," she said.