New date for FTC workshop on ticket sales

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You won’t need a ticket, but you will need to mark your calendar for June 11, 2019. That’s the new date for That’s the Ticket, an FTC workshop about online ticket sales.

That's the ticket event logoThe workshop – originally scheduled for March – will explore the ticket sales marketplace, consider industry-wide advertising and pricing issues, and discuss ways to address deception beyond traditional law enforcement. Topics include ticket bots, the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act), the resale ticket market, disclosures of pricing and fees, and possible consumer confusion about search engine ads and websites of resellers. (The GAO has issued a report summarizing these issues.)

Commissioner Slaughter will offer opening remarks. We’ll announce the rest of the agenda as the event draws nearer.

The June 11th workshop – it’s free and open to the public – will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center, 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington, DC. Can’t make it to DC? We’ll webcast the event live.

 

Comments

The GAO Report highlights many issues in the Secondary Ticket Market. There seems to be a lot of emphasis on primary market ticket fees, but there are many issues that are much larger problems (and much costlier) for consumers. Professional ticket brokers (companies or individuals) operate in this secondary ticket market – and the GAO Report gives data and facts on the activities of these brokers and their negative effects on consumers – brokers have a competitive advantage over individual consumers that prevents consumers from obtaining tickets, secondary ticket markets are not fully transparent about ticket fees and relevant disclosures,  “white label” websites use marketing practices that confuse consumers and mislead them into paying higher prices, the use of speculative tickets harms consumers in a number of ways, etc.  In fact, the GAO Report  indicates that the professional ticket brokers that operate in the secondary ticket market provide NO positive value to ticket consumers (or to venues, or performers).  

Based on the research in the GAO Report, it appears that the only real need for a resale exchange is to permit ticket buyers who cannot attend an event to recoup their money through resale.  There are a number of ways of meeting this need discussed in the Report – Designated Resale Exchanges, etc.

I suggest that all primary ticket sales be made Nontransferable – except for designated resale exchanges with resale price caps in place.  The GAO Report has extensive discussion on the Effects of Ticket Resale Restrictions and Disclosures on Consumers.  It states that the most effective restriction is to make all primary ticket sales Nontransferable - thereby preventing ticket resale (except through a regulated resale medium).  The Report also states “Critics of price caps have said that caps might force resale activity underground, which would reduce transparency and protections (such as refund guarantees) that legitimate secondary market exchanges provide”.   However, this is a weak argument because there are ways to address this – and, the volume of the underground resale activity would be only a few percent of the current internet based resale market due to the difficulty of dealing in the underground market (internet marketing is too easy and is a “hidden” seller).

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