Tens of thousands of Australian sport, theatre and music fans were likely misled when paying substantial booking fees to controversial ticket reseller Viagogo, the consumer watchdog says.
The Swiss-based ticket marketplace was found by a judge on Thursday to have broken several consumer laws when falsely claiming tickets were about to sell out and masquerading as an official ticket seller.
Viagogo has long been controversial with entertainers. It was labelled "disgraceful and disruptive" by rock band Gang of Youths and "dicks" by comedian Kitty Flanagan in 2018.
It's also drawn the ire of consumers with 3500 complaints logged with the consumer watchdog, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said.
"When you're thinking about just one company, that's an enormous number," Mr Sims told reporters on Thursday.
"The percentage of people who bother to complain is very small so I think you could be confident that this behaviour affected tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands."
Federal Court Justice Stephen Burley on Thursday found Viagogo failed to clearly state its booking fees between May and June 2017.
In one case, a Victorian psychiatric nurse was charged $104.98 in fees when she booked two tickets to comedy theatre show The Book of Mormon.
The woman said several warnings that tickets were running out made her feel anxious and that she paid the fees as she was worried she'd lose her tickets.
Other fans were caught out when buying tickets to the Australian Open tennis, Ashes Test cricket matches and Queen concerts.
The ruling must change Viagogo's behaviour and it should send a message throughout the industry, Mr Sims said.
"If their behaviour doesn't change sufficiently, they'll be back in court again," he said.
The ACCC will seek a multi-million dollar fine when the case returns to court in Sydney later this year.
Viagogo spokesman Cris Miller said he was disappointed in the ruling which he insists doesn't reflect the company's ticketing platform.
"We strongly believe our website is compliant and we will continue to work closely and constructively with the ACCC," Mr Miller said in a statement to AAP on Thursday.
"Without services like Viagogo, people would be forced to return to buying and selling tickets outside venues, or to use informal social media platforms where no customer protection exists."
Australian Associated Press