In a highly contentious decision, Google has declared that secondary ticket sites are not breaking its advertising network’s terms of service. 

UK MP’s implored the search giant to ban secondary resale sites from using Google’s ad network to portray themselves as official ticketing vendors, thereby directing fans around official ticket sales and over to secondary markets, where costs can be much higher and conditions much sketchier (as anyone who’s tried to buy a concert ticket online could tell you). 

Viagogo was singled out by officials as an egregious violator, particularly for using words like “official” to mislead ticket buyers into thinking they’re getting the goods from an official broker.

Google has its hand on the steering wheel as it pertains to several nebulous and critical piracy and fraud issues, but this one, according to folks like MP Nigel Adams, is especially black-and-white. MP Adams elaborated to The Sun Online:

“Hundreds of people have mistakenly assumed they are buying at face value from a legitimate source. A responsible company should be questioning the way in which sites like Viagogo present themselves on their search engines.”

Countless anecdotes of ticket purchasers and would-be happy concert attendees go the same way: an official vendor is sold out of ticket inventory, so a customer goes to Google to search for another vendor and ends up buying what is actually a fraudulent ticket, and not eligible for event admission. Then, the jilted customers claim, Viagogo refuses to provide refunds to the cheated fans, who are left holding worthless tickets.

There’s even been a “Victims of Viagogo” Facebook group created for customers who have similarly been cheated out of their money for tickets that are no-good.

It’s possible that most of the controversy would be avoided entirely if ticket resellers, of which Viagogo is only one, were more accountable to and transparent with their customer base. If that were the case, then British lawmakers (and Irish… and Australian…) might be less perturbed by click-hacking tactics like using the word “official” in Google ads.

But as the “Victims of Viagogo” group edges on towards 3000 members, it doesn’t seem there’s any going back.

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