President Biden Adds Support to Ticket “Junk” Fee Regulations President Biden Adds Support to Ticket “Junk” Fee Regulations
Fresh on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s vote in favor of rulemaking regarding “junk” fees, President Biden threw his weight behind the... President Biden Adds Support to Ticket “Junk” Fee Regulations

Fresh on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s vote in favor of rulemaking regarding “junk” fees, President Biden threw his weight behind the effort, which may profoundly impact how the live event ticketing business operates. While no specifics were detailed on what action might be taken, the President’s remarks Wednesday showed strong support for regulation of ticketing and other industries that would potentially mean “all-in” pricing becoming the standard, rather than the “drip pricing” system that many ticket sellers use to hide required fees until late in the transaction process.

Speaking at the White House, President Biden took aim at such hidden fees, promising “new actions to lower the cost of everyday living for American families, to put more money in the pockets of middle-income and working-class Americans, to hold big corporations accountable,” he told the press, flanked by the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra and FTC Chair Lina Khan.

Ticketing transaction fees were one of several categories that were specifically referenced in the discussion, as well as other “unfair hidden fees” like bounced check charges, bank overdraft fees, credit card late fees, resort fees at hotels, and termination fees for accounts designed to keep consumers from freely switching providers. The White House cited research showing that hiding the full price often leads consumers to pay more than they otherwise would have, and makes comparison shopping across marketplaces substantially more difficult.

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“These are junk fees. They’re unfair, and they hit marginalized Americans the hardest, especially low-income folks and people of color. They benefit big corporations, not consumers, not working families,” the president said. “Today’s actions are going to save consumers more than $1 billion each year.”

Momentum towards an “all-in” pricing system becoming standard for live event tickets began building in 2019, when the FTC held a workshop examining consumer issues in ticketing, which put industry players on notice that the practice of hiding mandatory fees until the end of the transaction – which makes it near-impossible for consumers to easily comparison shop between competing ticketing websites – might be on the way out. In the wake of the then-FTC Commissioner’s warning that regulations might be coming soon, many ticketing platforms began at least offering a toggle allowing consumers to show prices inclusive of fees – though several ticketing platforms opted against doing so. “All-in” pricing became mandatory for ticket marketplaces displaying prices for consumers in New York earlier this year after that state passed its extension and updates to the regulatory laws regarding ticketing, but the FTC rules would apply across the U.S.

Live Nation has already come out in favor of the Biden Administration’s plans, despite its being arguably the pioneer in the drip-pricing practice by way of Ticketmaster’s long-term use of the pricing practice.

“We applaud President Biden’s advocacy for fee transparency in every industry, including live event ticketing,” reads a statement issued by the entertainment giant. “Live Nation Entertainment advocated for the all-in pricing mandate passed in New York earlier this year, which requires face-value prices and fees to be shown upfront – and we support the FTC mandating this nationally. We operate ticketing marketplaces in 30+ countries around the world and have seen all-in pricing adopted successfully in many countries when mandated across the board. This only works if all ticketing marketplaces go all-in together, so that consumers truly have accurate comparisons as they shop for tickets.

Wednesday’s announcement dramatically ramped up the momentum for widespread change to the ticketing industry in terms of how fees are displayed for consumers shopping for tickets to live events, though it didn’t add any specific steps to the process that has already been started by the FTC’s rulemaking announcement last week.

Last Updated on October 27, 2022 by Dave Clark