A new TICKET Act was introduced this week by U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX) , which would require the total ticket price to be displayed by default for consumers shopping online marketplaces. The legislation would require both all-in pricing and disclosure on so-called “speculative” tickets where the person selling a ticket does not yet own the tickets being listed for sale.
“When families budget for a night at a ball game or to hear their favorite band, they shouldn’t have to worry about being surprised by hidden fees that suddenly raise the final cost of tickets well over the advertised price,” says Cantwell in a press release announcing the proposed legislation. “The TICKET Act requires sellers to disclose the real price of tickets up front. The price they say should be the price you pay. This bill is one part of comprehensive legislation I plan to introduce to rein in deceptive junk fees driving up costs for consumers.”
One of two pieces of federal legislation regarding ticketing just this week, the TICKET Act (Transparency in Charges for Key Events Ticketing) is similar to the previously introduced Junk Fee Prevention Act in that it requires all-in pricing for tickets, but it does not address the practice of ticket holdbacks – hiding unsold tickets from consumers to stimulate the perception that an event is sold out or close to being sold out to drive up prices – like that legislation does. The TICKET Act is more narrowly defined to the live event ticketing industry, while the Junk Fee Prevention Act spans a wide range of industries and is being championed by the Biden Administration.
Instead, the TICKET Act narrowly focuses on a handful of key points. It would require all ticket sellers, including primary and secondary market ticket sellers to:
- Display the total ticket price (including all required fees) in any advertisement, marketing, or price list.
- Disclose to consumers the total ticket price (including all fees), including an itemized list of base ticket price and each ticket fee, at the beginning of a transaction and prior to selection of the ticket.
- Disclose to consumers if a ticket being offered for sale is a speculative ticket and that the seller does not have actual or constructive possession of the ticket.
- A speculative ticket is a ticket that is put up for sale by a secondary market seller, but the seller does not yet possess the ticket. In reviewing this market, GAO found that speculative ticketing can cause confusion for consumers especially when the consumer is not aware that they are even purchasing a speculative ticket.
“Sports fans and concertgoers alike have experienced the frustration of expecting to pay the listed price for a ticket only to be hit with a slew of hidden fees at checkout. These unadvertised fees are a nuisance and deter consumers from following through with a purchase,” says Sen. Cruz. “The TICKET Act brings transparency to the whole ticketing industry, which is dominated by a few large players that can capitalize on these hidden fees. I’m proud to introduce with Senator Cantwell this bipartisan, pro-consumer legislation to bring transparency to millions of American fans looking to attend their favorite events.”
The full text of the TICKET Act is available here.
All-in pricing has been a long-discussed aspect of ticketing that almost all players within the industry have no objection to – provided it is mandated across the board. With no blanket requirement in place, companies that opt to advertise one price for tickets while adding fees after buyers have entered payment or other personal information have a significant advantage in sales compared to companies that use an “all-in” model. A TicketNews survey of primary and resale websites following a 2019 FTC workshop that discussed the matter of fee transparency at length showed that some companies opted to give consumers the ability to view prices with fees included, but very few did so by default – and that trend continues to this day.
Live Nation has already come out in support of the TICKET Act, though it continues to push for its own set of consumer reforms that would make promoters and event operators the regulators of their own industry.
“We appreciate the good work of Senators Cantwell and Cruz,” a Live Nation statement said. “This bill is a good starting point – we support all-in pricing – but in order to protect fans and artists more can and should be done, including ensuring artists can determine how their tickets can be resold, banning speculative tickets and deceptive websites.”
Also announced on Wednesday was the Unlock Ticketing Markets Act, from Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). That bill takes aim directly at long term exclusive contracts between ticketing companies and venues. More on that legislation here.
Last Updated on April 27, 2023 by Dave Clark
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