New bipartisan bill would give concert-goers an upfront look at fees
The ‘TICKET ACT,’ introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz and Maria Cantwell, is just one of several bills trying to tame the ticket market
A new piece of bipartisan legislation seeks to make the process of buying tickets for sporting events and concerts more transparent.
The “TICKET Act,” which stands for the Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing, was introduced by U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Chairwoman Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
The currently undisclosed fees can account for up to 27% of the total cost of the ticket, as a 2018 Government Accountability Office report states. Here’s how the bill tackles these fees.
What is the ‘TICKET Act’?
Under the bill, ticket-sellers would be forced to reveal the final price for an event from the get-go, as well as an itemized list of the fees involved.
“These unadvertised fees are a nuisance and deter consumers from following through with a purchase,” said Cruz in a statement.
Sellers who resell tickets that aren’t in their possession at the time of the transaction will have to make their buyers aware of the fact.
“The TICKET Act brings transparency to the whole ticketing industry, which is dominated by a few large players that can capitalize on these hidden fees,” he said.
Cantwell said that customers should pay the price they first encounter, instead of worrying about hidden fees on a night out with the family.
“This bill is one part of comprehensive legislation I plan to introduce to rein in deceptive junk fees driving up costs for consumers,” she said in a statement.
Combating hidden fees becomes a key bipartisan issue
Lawmakers are increasingly paying attention to these fees. Last June, New York passed a state law requiring sellers to display an “all-in” price. Meanwhile, state legislation in California, Georgia, Florida and Maryland seeks to prevent ticket-sellers and artists from restricting the transferability of tickets.
Live Nation — which holds a monopoly in this industry, especially after its merger with Ticketmaster, another event promoting and ticketing company, in 2010 — said the legislation is a “good starting point,” but encouraged lawmakers to consider including language “ensuring artists can determine how their tickets can be resold, banning speculative tickets and deceptive websites, and strengthening the BOTS Act,” which prohibits sellers from selling tickets using bots, according to Vulture.
Earlier this year, the Senate looked into Ticketmaster’s inability to process orders for a wildly popular Taylor Swift tour.
“It’s very important that we maintain fair, free, open and even fierce competition in this and as in every space,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee said during the hearing in January. He said that competition would increase quality and reduce prices, according to Deseret News.
Shortly after the hearing, Ticketmaster said in a statement that it does not control most fees, neither does most of the money go to them. The company agreed that upfront pricing would be the best approach.
Lee, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., called on the Justice Department to investigate monopoly concerns over Ticketmaster in a letter following the hearing.
“For too long, Live Nation and Ticketmaster have wielded monopoly power anticompetitively, harming fans and artists alike,” they wrote.
”Live Nation’s responses amount to ‘trust us.’ We believe that is wholly insufficient,” the letter said.
Ticketmaster rival points to bigger issues in ticketing industry
StubHub, a popular ticket reselling platform has previously said that lawmakers have failed to mention the basic market problems created by the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
“In the wake of bipartisan calls to investigate anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices by (Live Nation Entertainment), LNE’s solution is to point fingers and call for policies that strengthen their own control over the industry and consumers,” StubHub told The Rolling Stone.
Stubhub has advocated for the “BOSS Act,” which would end hidden fees, prevent primary sellers from reselling tickets at a higher price and provide consumers with fraud protections.
The Biden administration joined in calling for a crackdown on “unfair and costly junk fees” through support for the “Junk Fee Prevention Act,” which was recently introduced in the Senate and would require sellers to post more accurate prices up front for consumers.