A proposed class action lawsuit looks to represent those who bought tickets through Viagogo Entertainment Inc. amid the COVID-19 pandemic and were deprived of a refund after the company retroactively axed its full cash refund guarantee.
The 18-page breach of contract complaint alleges Viagogo, StubHub’s parent company, has quietly sought to force consumers to shoulder the burden of financial losses the defendant itself created with its longstanding money-back guarantee, particularly in the face of “the entirely foreseeable scenario that world occurrences would cause the simultaneous cancellation of numerous events for which tickets were sold.”
“To avoid financial losses, and potential future losses, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Defendant has unilaterally and unconscionably changed its longstanding policy, including for customers who purchased tickets while Viagogo actively promoted and promised its Viagogo Guarantee, to instead leave its customers holding the bag,” the lawsuit claims.
For years, Viagogo relied on its “Viagogo Guarantee” as a tool to make consumers comfortable with paying higher prices, often well beyond face value, for event tickets resold on the secondary market, the suit says. Per the case, the Viagogo Guarantee, a “key pillar” of the defendant’s success, was built into the company’s various user agreements and well-publicized by the defendant, who promised to fully refund a customer who bought tickets to an event that was canceled.
According to the complaint, Viagogo charges ticket buyers a service fee that specifically covers “guaranteeing tickets,” with the company’s broader instant-download business model built in a manner to allow for “quick and efficient refunds upon the cancellation of events.” Per Viagogo’s online terms and conditions, the case says, a ticket seller will be paid five to eight working days after the date of an event if the delivery of tickets is successful to the buyer. Viagogo, the suit continues, has made clear that it reserves the right to withhold payment or collect repayment should an event be rescheduled or canceled.
Given its business model, Viagogo should have had funds reaped from ticket sales readily available to timely refund buyers, the complaint says, stressing that consumers relied on the promise that tickets could be refunded when deciding whether to do business with the defendant.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Viagogo, facing a tidal wave of event cancellations and customer refund requests, tweaked its website to address the ramifications of the unprecedented virus, the lawsuit says. Per the suit, Viagogo added to its website the following statement, assuring buyers were entitled to a full refund and that nothing had to be done in order to get their money back:
Despite the foregoing, Viagogo has not issued any refunds to those who bought tickets to events canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lawsuit alleges. From the complaint:
“Viagogo has collected, and continues to hold, funds, including fees, from Plaintiff and the putative Class for cancelled or constructively cancelled events.
Even though many thousands of events have been cancelled, Viagogo wrongly refuses to classify events as ‘cancelled,’ allowing it to maintain dominion and control over even more funds which it has no legal right to possess or use for its own business purposes.
Plaintiff and other members of the putative class have requested refunds, but refunds have not been granted.”
The plaintiff, a Hernando County, Florida resident, claims she paid more than $410 for tickets to see the progressive rock band Tool on April 19, 2020. After contacting Viagogo on multiple occasions between April and July, the plaintiff was ultimately informed by the defendant that “[o]nce the ticket order has been placed, Viagogo is unable to cancel orders. All orders are non-exchangeable/non-refundable,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit looks to represent Florida residents who used Viagogo to buy tickets to any event that was canceled or constructively canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and who have not been issued a refund.
The suit against Viagogo is the latest in a string of proposed class action litigation looking to represent consumers who’ve allegedly been deprived of refunds for event tickets amid the coronavirus crisis. Throughout the pandemic, StubHub, Vivid Seats, Ticketmaster, Eventbrite, and Live Nation have been hit with lawsuits looking to recover refunds.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.