After the outcry from fans who could not score tickets to last year’s The Tragically Hip (possibly) farewell tour, Ontario government promised to look into reforming ticket resale legislation. Today, Ontario announced they will move forward with plans to reform, and grouped ticket resale in with a number of other services in a broad legislation called Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, according to The Globe and Mail.
This June, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi announced that he had heard the numerous complaints about lack of transparency and potential bot use in the ticketing industry, sparked specifically by the quick sell-out of The Tragically Hip’s tour after the band’s lead singer announced his diagnosis with terminal brain cancer. Naqvi said that he intended to further examine the issue and make legislation reforms that would “put fans first, provide more information to consumers, and make sure everyone has a fair shot at getting the tickets they want”.
Today, Ontario government announced a consumer protection bill that places rules and limitations on ticket sales, as well as home warranties, real estate practices, and travel services.
According to the bill, primary sellers are now required to tell customers the capacity of the venue as well as the number of tickets that will be available through general on-sale. Secondary sellers are limited to a mark-up of 50 percent above face value, and are required to display the original ticket price.
The rule also includes a ban on ticket scalping “bot” software, though this has been criticized as merely symbolic, as bots are most often operated from overseas and are intentionally impossible to track down.
The bill empowers inspectors from Consumer Protection Ontario to investigate, enforce, and penalize various parties in the ticket selling industry. Tracy MacCharles, the province’s Minister of Government and Consumer Services, told The Globe and Mail that “the ministry will have greater enforcement powers, and stiffer penalties for violation” of the act. She did not take further questions or provide details on said enforcement or penalties.
Both Toronto-based financial analyst John Krisko and StubHub’s senior manager of government relations Laura Dooley have openly criticized the ticket resale limitations since the idea was first announced.
“Our position remains that price caps displace tickets from secure sources, therefore exposing fans to higher instances of fraud, less transparency around fees, non-existent customer service and reduced ability for enforcement,” Dooley said. “We are concerned this policy reverses innovations in the market that serve to protect consumers.”
Krisko contends that: “For high-demand events, tickets sellers will be forced into (largely untraceable) underground secondary markets to obtain market prices, competition for inventory available through legal channels will increase significantly, and once again, counterfeit tickets will become a problem for Ontarians.”