Viagogo Vianono

Apologies in advance – this post may feel a bit like pulling teeth…if it does, then think yourself lucky you’re not Carole.


In the summer of 2012 Carole made arrangements to go and see Jessie J live at the O2. She spent over £300 with Viagogo to buy four tickets, and having done so, Keira and a friend plus two mums looked forward to the gig. A few days before the event, the tickets had not arrived so Carole contacted Viagogo who told her that the gig had been postponed. Note: Carole contacted Viagogo, not the other way around. Everyone was a little deflated by the delay and Carole understandably wasn’t happy that Viagogo made no effort to contact her with the news.

The Main Event?

The concert was rescheduled from a Saturday in March to a Wednesday in October, in the middle of school half term holidays – phew! A few days before the concert, the tickets arrived, all systems go! On the day – everyone headed off to London by train, took the Thames Clipper to the O2 arena and enjoyed an early dinner before heading in to see the support acts.

Except the gang didn’t head in, they were refused entry at the gate, something about their tickets being duplicates. The O2 staff refused to go with Carole to check and see if these seats were indeed already occupied, and on checking further, the O2 confirmed the tickets weren’t in Carole’s name and there was nothing more they would do about it. You can imagine how the news went down. The kids kept a stiff upper lip and Carole went off in search of a Viagogo representative, and found them sat at a desk in the O2 bar.

The Viagogo people at the venue refused to leave their station to help and they acknowledged they had made errors in the ticketing process. The only thing they were willing to do at the time was offer a 50% refund and replacement tickets in the standing only area, for over 16s. Keira and her friend are 10 and 11 respectively, and as much as they aspire to be a little older, passing the girls off as 16 year olds wasn’t going to happen. To the gang’s credit – they tried!

Eventually Carole obtained tickets elsewhere and they got into the arena just a few minutes before Jessie J came on stage. The team persisted, and they had a great time, no thanks to Viagogo.


The following day Carole spoke with Viagogo who confirmed their errors and offered a full refund. Carole was told the refund would be processed immediately. Since that day – Carole has had to chase and chase and chase. Viagogo started offering excuses around our bank refusing to accept the refund, saying it would now have to be processed manually and would take two or three weeks. All the leg work in chasing this up came from Carole – Viagogo staff refused point blank to transfer her to previous people she’d spoken with, refused to put her through to the finance department and more. Promised call backs weren’t kept and the situation went from bad to worse.

Every time Carole spoke with Viagogo another excuse for the delays was dribbled out. We need your bank IBAN number. We need your bank SWIFT code. Your bank has refused to accept the payment. And so it goes on. We’ve written three times to Ed Parkinson the UK CEO, so far nothing from him. We’ve had numerous recurring unhelpful exchanges on Twitter too.

Viagogo tweets

All talk, no money. I posted my frustration on Facebook yesterday and a couple of good friends suggested that as Viagogo are in the business of music, or at least in the business of preventing fans from seeing it live, they might like a song from me about their now legendary poor customer service. I haven’t written a complaint song for months, not since Fancy A Curry, which the team at Currys responded wonderfully to.

Will Sing for Refunds

Yesterday evening I hastily wrote, recorded and uploaded the punk ‘classic’, Viagogo Vianono. Keira watched the finished product and said, how do you manage to sing so many words without breathing? Later on, after watching the video, my friend Kev Wyke said, ‘You don’t need breath when you’re fuelled by fury’. Love it!

Where Are We Now?

Last night sometime after 11pm Carole received a text from Viagogo with another promise that the refund would be processed immediately. We’ll see… you’ll forgive us if we don’t have a lot of confidence in this latest promise, we’re not alone it seems.

While We Wait

Putting to one side all the hassle and wasted time that Viagogo have inflicted on Carole et al, what does this tale tell you about the culture of service in Viagogo? Carole’s observations are mainly around the lack of response and the complete unwillingness or inability of the front line to act, beyond making vague unfulfilled promises.

If you work in HR, as some of my readers do, I think it’s your responsibility to help ensure that your colleagues come to work and are given the tools they need to do their job well. And if that job is customer satisfaction, which let’s face it, is a part of everyone’s job, that means giving front line staff the ability to solve problems quickly and effectively. If you’re in HR and you’re not asking your colleagues across the business, ‘How can I help you deliver better service?’ when you meet them everyday, then I don’t think you’re doing enough of the right stuff. Be restless, be curious, serve, serve, serve.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

2 thoughts on “Viagogo Vianono”

  1. I’m a firm believer in the idea that the customer experience never exceeds the employee experience (CX<EX). Based on that thought, on this Thanksgiving morning I'm very grateful that I don't work for Viagogo.

    Or, thought of a different way, I marvel a bit at Viagogo's HR and leadership teams who have been able to so thoroughly attract, select, develop, and retain people who can provide such a consistent customer experience. If only they used that power for good instead of indifference… 😉

    BTW – loved the song.

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