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US House launches probe into “deceptive” ticketing practices

The US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce committee has announced a wide-ranging investigation into the US ticketing industry, focusing on the “potentially unfair and deceptive practices occurring in the primary and secondary ticket marketplace.”

The probe will look into those practices “which have been documented in consumer complaints, press stories, and government reports.” The committee’s concerns surrounding resale include the sale of speculative tickets, as well as deceptive third-party websites, while its primary market issues include the disclosure of available inventory and a lack of transparency about availability.

It also covers long-standing complaints about hidden fees across both tiers and the transferability of tickets, which is a major industry talking point and something that could dictate the market moving forward.

The committee has already requested detailed information and documents from the heads of six major ticketing companies, which are Live Nation (which owns Ticketmaster), AEG (which owns AXS Ticketing), Stubhub, Vivid Seats, TicketNetwork and Tickets.com,

“Despite ongoing bipartisan efforts by the Committee, as well as federal agency action to better understand the current ticketing marketplace, consumers still face a host of troubling practices and trends in the ticketing industry,” the Committee leaders wrote in their letter.

“Many of these issues relate to a lack of transparency and fairness, which places purchasers at an unfair advantage when attempting to buy tickets in the current marketplace.”

The announcement comes in light of ongoing public pressure to regulate ticketing in the US, with the most recent move being the a US Government Accountability Office report in April and a request for a Federal Trade Commission investigation in June. The FTC called for a clamp down on bots, increased transparency and including fees up front, though nothing has materialised since then.

Image: Martin Falbisoner