ANOTHER congressional investigation of the live event ticketing industry was launched on 21 November by leading members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over consumer protection issues.
In letters to Live Nation Entertainment, AEG, ticketing and technology company Tickets.com and resale websites StubHub, Vivid Seats and TicketNetwork, the Committee requested detailed information and documents pertaining to the ticketing policies and practices of the companies.
“The Committee is concerned about potentially unfair and deceptive practices occurring in the primary and secondary ticket marketplace, many of which have been documented in consumer complaints, press stories and government reports,” says the letter.
Those concerns, which have been questioned in the past, include high hidden fees, speculative tickets that harm unknowing consumers, and “white label” websites that may use practices to deceive consumers.
The Committee has already taken actions to protect consumers. It and subsequently the House of Representatives passed HR 5104, the Better On-Line Ticket Sales Act f 2016, which prohibits the use of computer software (commonly known as bots) to harvest tickets by circumventing security measures of ticketing websites. The Senate companion to this legislation became law in December 2016.
In July 2018, a letter was sent to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), requesting it examine a host of consumer protection issues regarding the ticketing marketplace.
“Nonetheless, 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 letter continues.
“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 ticketing companies have until 12 December to respond.