Consumer advocates urge the FTC to investigate the ticketing industry

Yesterday, Sports Fans Coalition and the National Consumers League jointly filed comments which called on the FTC to investigate many consumer harms that are plaguing the live-event ticketing marketplace. The comments, filed in advance of the FTC’s “Online Event Ticket Workshop” argue how excessive market consolidation since the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger in 2010 has caused fans to fall victim to deceptive practices such as drip pricing, holdbacks, and restricted ticket transferability and has resulted in fans being forced to pay more than they agreed to for tickets.

SFC and NCL also demonstrate how primary ticketers like Ticketmaster have failed to protect fans from illegal ticket-buying bots and, in some cases, may have turned a blind eye to brokers who use bots to get around purchase limits and other restrictions. Finally, the groups’ comments also address the scourge of “white label ticket” websites, which trick fans into secondary markets under the false pretense that they are buying tickets directly from the venue.

In a press release, John Breyault, the National Consumers League’s Vice President of Public Policy Telecommunications and Fraud said:

“Ticketmaster and Live Nation should never have received the green light to merge in 2010. Consumer groups’ warnings about higher ticket prices and harms to the fan experience have been realized. Since the merger Ticketmaster has had free rein to gouge consumers with mandatory fees and take away consumers rights.”

Brian Hess, the Sports Fans Coalition’s Executive Director also said:

“Time after time we see fans suffer the most when markets become too concentrated. The live-event ticket market is no exception. The ‘robust competition’ we were promised in 2010 has failed to materialize, and as a result, the fans bear the burden. The proliferation of drip pricing, holdbacks, transferability restrictions, bots, and white label sites demonstrates that a market absent of competition is one that is anti-fan.

The National Consumers League’s and Sports Fans Coalition's full comments to the FTC are available here.

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