A coalition of consumer advocacy groups have launched a campaign for what they are calling a “Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights” – legislation that would support consumer rights and transparency for event ticketing. The groups – the Consumer Federation of America, Fan Freedom, National Consumers League, Protect Ticket Rights, and Sports Fans Coalition, offered the so-called bill of rights as a framework for ticketing legislation that can improve the live events ticketing market that serves millions of fans each year.

“Consumers deserve better when it comes to ticket sales, and it is clear that they are eager to see some change,” says Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America. “The Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights will level the playing field for consumers and end some of the most egregious practices that have historically plagued the ticket sales industry.”

As its four “pillars” the campaign offers:

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  1. The Right to Transferability, where ticketholders decide how to use, sell or give away their tickets if they wish and not the entity that previously sold the tickets;
  2. The Right to Transparency, which includes all-in pricing and disclosures of relevant information for the purchasing decision;
  3. The Right to Set the Price, so that companies who originally sold the tickets cannot dictate to fans for what price they can or cannot resell their purchased tickets, and, lastly;
  4. The Right to a Fair Marketplace, where fans compete with actual humans, not illegal software bots, for tickets.

Specifically, the Bill of Rights includes:

  • All-in, upfront pricing – no surprise fees at checkout;
  • Mandating primary ticket-selling companies to report all ticket bot activity to the appropriate authorities;
  • Disclosure of how many tickets are available to the general public at the time of “on sale”;
  • Clear and conspicuous disclosure when a ticket seller does not have a ticket in their possession or contractual right;
  • The guarantee of unrestricted transfer of all tickets; and
  • A prohibition on deceptive URLs and other fraudulent reseller practices.

The Bill of Rights proposal comes at a time when there is enormous scrutiny on the ticket sales business in the wake of Ticketmaster’s disastrously handling of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour presale in the fall. That implosion, coming after months of fan anger over the increasing use of surge ticket pricing tactics by primary box office companies like Ticketmaster and parent Live Nation, led to a blistering hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, and reports that legislation is currently being worked on at the federal level to deal with the major consumer issues in place for ticketing as it currently stands.

Live Nation and Ticketmaster, under fire as a monopoly from many critics, have consistently blamed ticket resale and “bots” for those issues, rather than their own attempts at boxing out competition and failures. They also recently came out with a proposed set of legislative priorities, ones that conveniently align with actions that would all but eliminate consumer ticket rights and competition from resale marketplaces while its own actions go unchallenged.

Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) pushed back against the California entertainment giant’s efforts at deflecting blame for its role in the ticketing consumer issues, calling on the Department of Justice to continue its antitrust investigation of the business practices  that allegedly violate competition laws. This leaves open the possibility that legislators are considering the implementation of a number of consumer rights at the federal level that currently only exist in a handful of states.

“Fans and competition are best served when there is an open, competitive, and fair market for live event tickets,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League. “The Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights is a common-sense set of principles that policymakers should look to for solutions to fix a rigged live event industry.”

More information about the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights is available at the campaign website, which also allows those interested in showing their support to sign on with the group’s petition to show they want to see their rights protected when they buy tickets.

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