Embattled ticket site strikes back

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Norwegian online ticket agency Euroteam, caught in conflict over its sales of tickets to Olympic events in London, is back in business after promising refunds to customers. It still faces legal action both in Norway and the UK and was evicted from its Oslo offices this week, but its owners vow to battle police and Olympic officials who have charged Euroteam with fraud.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), which has carried an ongoing series of stories over what one top Olympic official calls a “scandal,” reported Friday that Euroteam’s office just behind the Royal Palace in Oslo was abruptly closed this week. An attorney for the office’s owner said Euroteam had failed to pay rent for the past two months, while Euroteam staff claim they’re victims of bad publicity after hundreds if not thousands of their customers failed to receive tickets they’d bought through Euroteam for Olympic events.

‘Mafia’ claims
Euroteam owner Atle Barlaup has described Olympics officials as a “mafia,” telling DN that they’re “using all their resources to protect their own economic interests.” Barlaup, who wouldn’t discuss where or how Euroteam obtains the tickets it sells to customers online, said a police seizure of Olympics tickets Euroteam had bought and sold on to sports fans only hurts Euroteam’s customers, whom many have described as unwitting parties who thought they were buying tickets from an approved Olympic vendor.

Instead, many of the tickets sold through Euroteam were initially issued to national Olympic committees including the one in Poland, reported DN after talking with a Norwegian family who finally received three of the six tickets they’d ordered and paid NOK 1,000 each for through Euroteam. The tickets used by the Storelv family at an Olympic fencing event this week had a face value of GBP 20 (less than NOK 200) and were imprinted with “Poland NOC,” according to Erik Storelv. He told DN that he and his two children, who had felt cheated by Euroteam when their tickets hadn’t shown up as expected, were admitted to the arena, even though Olympic officials have said they shouldn’t have been.

Gerhard Heiberg, a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee(IOC) from Norway, had earlier told DN that it’s strictly forbidden for such tickets to be resold, especially at a profit, so it seems likely Poland’s national Olympic committee will face questioning along with Euroteam.

Legal battle and creditor claims
Meanwhile, ticket scalping is not illegal in Norway and Euroteam maintains it’s done nothing wrong. All their customers would have received their tickets, albeit at inflated prices, if police hadn’t seized hundreds of them on suspicions of fraud. Norwegian authorities claim Euroteam was selling a product that legally couldn’t be used, because their resale violated Olympic regulations.

The legal battle will likely continue long after the Olympics end. Meanwhile many Euroteam customers remain without tickets after traveling to London. A London court allowed Euroteam’s website to resume operations after Euroteam promised refunds to unhappy customers with “valid” claims. Euroteam has asked customers to send any claims to its new offices at Fornebu, outside Oslo, but they’re likely to land in long line of Euroteam creditors since DN uncovered 30 claims for lack of payment against the company, from creditors including a car leasing firm, a law firm and banks.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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