National Consumers League

Consumer groups applaud House hearing on anti-consumer practices in the ticketing industry

February 26, 2020

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, Sports Fans Coalition, Fan Freedom, and Public Knowledge commend Chairwoman DeGette and members of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for convening the hearing, "In the Dark: Lack of Transparency in the Live Event Ticketing Industry." Rife with fraud, deceptive marketing prices, and opaque restrictions on transferability, the live event ticket marketplace is one of the least consumer-friendly marketplaces available.

“The live event market is rigged against fans. It is rigged by a billion-dollar ticketing monopoly, rigged by unscrupulous scalpers who continue to use illegal ticket bots, and rigged by artists and promoters who would rather point fingers than bring transparency to the marketplace,” said John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud for the National Consumers League. “They say that sunshine is the best disinfectant. It is our hope that today’s hearing will be a step toward cleaning up a broken industry and holding the executives who run it to account for their anti-fan business practices.”

"We've heard from thousands of people across the country frustrated with being ambushed by sneaky fees that jack up the price of event tickets," said Anna Laitin, Director of Financial Policy for Consumer Reports. "Companies should be required to advertise ticket prices with all mandatory fees included so there are no surprises and consumers know exactly how much they'll pay."

“The same things that harm concert fans harm sports fans,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. “Fans deserve the right to transfer their ticket. Whether that is because they want to give a ticket to a family member, or try to sell it to recoup some costs if they can no longer attend the game. Restrictions on this right, ruin the fan experience and make it harder for fans, especially older fans, to enjoy the teams they’ve invested in.”

“Fan Freedom applauds the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for examining live event ticketing,” said Chris VanDeHoef, Fan Freedom President. “The industry is tilted in favor of the Live Nation Entertainment monopoly at the expense of music, sports and theater fans everywhere. We believe the BOSS Act begins the process of shifting power back into the hands of consumers.”

“Ticketmaster’s ability to leverage the ticketing portion of its business alongside the concert promotion portion of its business, Live Nation, is a classic example of anticompetitive behavior,” said Bertram Lee, Policy Counsel with Public Knowledge, “ Live Nation has refused to bring artists to venues that don’t use Ticketmaster, and this kind of anticompetitive behavior impacts both consumers and artists. Neither artists nor consumers who use Ticketmaster or Live Nation are able to take advantage of better prices or terms in the larger ticketing and venue marketplace.”

Many of the ills that plague this marketplace could be resolved by the passage of the Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing Act (HR 3248) as introduced by Congressman Pascrell (D NJ-9). The bill would require ticket sellers to adopt all-in pricing instead of hitting consumers with several fees at the end of check out, prohibit non-transferable tickets, require disclosures of how many tickets are being sold to the general public, and many more vital consumer protections. Following today’s hearing, the National Consumers League, Consumer Reports, Sports Fans Coalition, Fan Freedom, and Public Knowledge urges each member of the committee to cosponsor the BOSS Act to adequately address the myriad of harms that will be brought to light during this hearing.

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About the National Consumers League: The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneering consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

About Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. It conducts its advocacy work in the areas of privacy, telecommunications, financial services, food and product safety, health care, among other areas. Using its dozens of labs, auto test center, and survey research department, the nonprofit organization rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 6 million members and publishes its magazine, website, and other publications.

About Sports Fans Coalition: Sports Fans Coalition was founded on the idea that sports fans deserve an advocate, someone who will stand up to the big sports leagues when they flex their political muscle, bully government officials or businesses, and attempt to harm the fan. Over the years, we have successfully supported fans across the country by overturning the Sports Blackout Rule; advocating for player safety; opposing publicly funded sports stadium construction unless fans receive a commensurate benefit, such as reduced ticket prices or free tickets for military personnel and retirees; protecting fans against ticket resale fraud; and drafting the Sports Bettors’ Bill of Rights, a set of consumer protections to promote safer sports betting.

About Fan Freedom: Fan Freedom is an organization comprised of entertainment and sports fans from around the country that support legislative proposals protecting the rights of fans and consumers.

About Public Knowledge: Public Knowledge is a consumer advocacy group that works at the intersection of copyright, telecommunications, and internet law to promote policies that serve the public interest. Public Knowledge advocates for freedom of expression, net neutrality, online privacy, affordable broadband access, digital platform competition, and other policies that benefit the public. In all our work, we endeavor to promote a creative and connected future for all Americans.