Consumer groups oppose TICKET Act amendment

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The US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has approved an amended version of the Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing Act (‘TICKET Act’).

The Senate Committee passed the bipartisan TICKET Act, sending the legislation to the full Senate. The bill will require event ticket sellers to display the total ticket price upfront, inclusive of all fees, in any advertisement or marketing that lists a ticket price. 

The bill was co-sponsored by Chair Senator Maria Cantwell and Ranking Member Senator Ted Cruz. 

Cantwell said: “I am pleased to join Ranking Member Cruz in the TICKET Act, which will bring transparency and fairness to event ticketing by requiring ticket sellers to disclose total ticket prices up front.The price will say exactly what you will pay.”

However, consumer groups including the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights Coalition are disappointed with an amendment that has eliminated a requirement for ticket sellers to disclose clearly and conspicuously if they are in possession of the ticket being listed for sale. 

The Coalition said that this would have addressed the practice of ‘speculative ticketing’, a major harm to many consumers. 

Prior to the Commerce Committee’s decision, 11 consumer advocacy organisations had written a letter that urged support for the original version of the TICKET Act, which had been introduced earlier this year.

Organisations included the National Consumers League, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Federation of California, Fan Freedom Project, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Protect Ticket Rights, Public Knowledge, Sports Fans Coalition, US Public Interest Research Project, and Virginia Citizens Consumer Council. 

In a statement, the Coalition said: “The live event ticketing market is a rigged game, riddled with deception and a lack of transparency at every turn. We are extremely disappointed that the Commerce Committee today bowed to pressure from industry opponents and missed an opportunity to reduce the risk that fans end up high and dry without tickets to events they had otherwise planned to attend. 

“The TICKET Act, as amended, is a step in the right direction but a reminder of why vested interests continue to resist comprehensive reform. The live event ticketing system needs to be cured of deep flaws that result in consumers being abused before tickets go on sale, while they are for sale, and through the moment they are scanned for entry. The TICKET Act as introduced would have assured transparency to two of the most opaque parts of ticket buying: the pricing of tickets, and the sale of  tickets that sellers do not possess, but are offered to unknowing customers.” 

The statement added: “We continue to support all-in pricing of live event tickets because today’s deceptive drip pricing is unfortunately the norm whether the tickets come from a venue, a team, Ticketmaster, or a resale marketplace. Our groups will continue to work for a fairer ticket marketplace to ensure that fans are able to access affordable tickets to their favourite events in an open, transparent, and competitive marketplace.”