The Wiggles and their promoter, Live Nation, may have found themselves handling a hot potato with thousands who’ve bought tickets to their shows, and possibly some potential Fair Trading Act issues.
On November 26, 2020, the Australian children’s entertainers started selling tickets to over 20 concerts around New Zealand, starting mid-March 2021.
However, the concerts were announced before all the wheels were on the bus.
At the point they started selling the tickets, the group had neither a border exemption to come into the country, nor vouchers to stay at an MIQ facility. However, border exemptions were granted on 24 December under the ‘other critical worker’ category, a month after sales had begun.
A spokesperson for MBIE, which oversees border exemptions, said while MBIE does not disclose information about individual applications to the managed isolation allocation system, she did however note a visa did not mean there was an automatic voucher allocated to them – the group has to book, like everyone else.
National MP Simon Bridges went in to bat for Dorothy the Dinosaur and the rest of the crew, tweeting he had drafted a letter in support of the group, which has already sold 40,000 tickets.
“The cast and crew have all approvals they need to come from Aussie, but due to visa delays the MIQ slots that were available, aren’t anymore,” Bridges tweeted last night.
He said he has to declare a conflict of interest "in that my two older children have grown up adoring The Wiggles, and my youngest child, aged three, is obsessed by them and may well go to their Tauranga concert if it happens".
Bridges ended his third tweet on the topic: “I suspect any MP with kids under a certain age will have the same conflict.”
Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy believes the promoters could be at odds with The Fair Trading Act.
Selling tickets in a Covid world without all the necessary permissions in place could be considered bait advertising, Duffy said.
“It is designed to lure you in to buy the product, good or service.”
If they cannot guarantee they have taken the necessary steps to deliver at the time they first go on sale, like having both border exemptions and MIQ slots in place, the reasonableness of the offering is brought into question.
He explained the unpredictable nature of the virus meant providers could not even assume anything like a travel bubble would be in place by a certain time in order to sell their wares, unless it had been announced.
“As we have all experienced over the past year, anything can happen.”
Despite several phone calls and emails requesting comment over the past week, Live Nation has not responded to questions about the situation.