Politicians in the Republic of Ireland are taking a hard look at the connection between Ticketmaster and secondary marketplace (and subsidiary) Seatwave following consumer complaints surrounding the rapid sellout of U2 and Coldplay concerts in the country’s capital, Dublin.
According to a story in the Irish Times, Michael Healy-Rae – an independent member of Ireland’s Dáil Éireann (lower house of Parliament) is pushing for an examination of the Live Nation-owned ticketing giant’s taxation in the country, likening the approach to how the United States managed to apprehend legendary Chicago mob boss Al Capone.
“They couldn’t get him for murder but they got him on taxes,” Healy-Rae said, wondering aloud whether the operation was “paying tax on their exorbitant profits.”
“If you can’t get them one way, get them another,” he said.
The source of the strong take from the Irish authorities was a pair of concerts where near-immediate sellouts from the primary Ticketmaster site gave way to near-immediate postings on Seatwave with huge markups. In the instance of the Coldplay show, tickets originally priced at €69 and €144 were gone nearly immediately, available on the partnered secondary website for €200 to €1,000.
Another member of the DE, Stephen Donnelly, questioned whether or not the tie between the primary and secondary seller could be considered a violation of anti-trust laws. “Are they violating consumer protection laws,” he asked. “Do companies like Seatwave get privileged access to Ticketmaster Tickets?”
Minister for Enterprise Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who fielded the complaints from the DE members, warned that any measures taken to deal with the issue of “touting” will need to keep from being too punitive on the secondary marketplace as a whole, as their existence is critical to keeping the ticket resale business legal and fair for consumers.
“Irish consumers will not be better off either if legislation here causes ticket resale to be diverted to [other European Union] countries that permit it,” she said.
The Government is asking interested parties to submit to a process of consultation on the practice of ticket resale, and will assess the most appropriate path to dealing with the issue in a manner that keeps things fair for consumers without driving them to a black market.