A pair of amendments protecting consumer ticket resale rights have been proposed as part of “An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth” in Massachusetts. The legislature is scheduled to be in session through the end of July, though extensions or special sessions are certainly possible due to the volume of business needing to be addressed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both amendments have been proposed to H4879. Amendment #225 seeks to establish a commission to investigate whether or not reform is needed for return or refund disputes amid the pandemic. Amendment #450 seeks to require primary ticket vendors to allow consumers a choice at the time of purchase to have tickets delivered in a format with no limitation on transfer rights.
Introduced by Rep. Tackey Chan (D-Norfolk), Amendment 225 offers structure for a commission that would examine the current refund structures in place for consumers who purchase tickets to events. It would “investigate and study the need for the mediation of event ticket refund disputes arising from cancellation of events during the COVID-19” emergency. Refunds and credits have been at the center of numerous consumer issues as the pandemic has raged on, from Ticketmaster’s initial shifting of its refund terms to some resale platforms like StubHub only allowing account credits for cancelled events, which drew the attention of the attorney general. It would report its recommendations by March of 2021.
Introduced by Rep. Michael Moran (D-Suffolk), Amendment 450 restricts the use of ticket systems designed to restrict consumer transfer rights to tickets they have purchased. With some exceptions, the amendment says:
[A] ticket issuer may employ a non-transferable ticketing system only if the consumer is offered an option at the time of initial sale to purchase the same ticket in a transferable form that allows tickets to be given away or resold independent of and without requiring the consumer to log into the ticket issuer’s preferred ticket platform, without penalty or discrimination, and b) a ticket buyer or seller shall not be penalized, discriminated against, or denied access to an event solely on the grounds that, or the ticket platform through which, the ticket or tickets were resold.
Rep. Moran’s amendment was co-sponsored by Rep. Tommy Vitolo (D-Norfolk)
Transfer rights have received more and more consideration by legislators in recent years, as primary ticketing companies have enacted more and more barriers against consumers freely transferring tickets they have purchased – through secondary market sales or gifts. Often, consumers get jammed in the middle when corporations look to restrict transfer rights, like when Ticketmaster shut hundreds out of a Black Keys concert in Los Angeles last year.
Legislators in New Jersey considered similar legislation this year. Several states already protect the right of consumers to do what they wish with tickets they have purchased, making restricted transfer systems unlawful. New York, Connecticut and Virginia are among the leaders in those rights for consumers, though entertainment giants like Live Nation and AEG lobby extensively against them being implemented whenever introduced.
Both amendments were lumped into a block that was added to the bill on Tuesday. As an emergency bill, it could be implemented rapidly should it pass the house and win approval in the state senate.