PATERSON, N.J. -- Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. of Paterson wants a federal investigation of the ticket industry to make sure that real fans -- and not scalper-run automated programs run or others given special preference -- are getting the first crack at seeing their favorite performers.
Pascreel (D-NJ) -- along with fellow Congressmen Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-MI) -- has requested a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) review focusing on transparency regarding sales, public information, secondary markets and the use of bots.
"We all stood in line for tickets not that long ago -- first-come, first-serve," said Pascrell, who authored the BOSS ACT after the botched sale of tickets to a 2009 Bruce Springsteen concert at the Izod Center. "Now bots are jumping to the front and secondary markets are taking a cut before the booth opens to the public."
What's more, he said, the industry features “holds” for industry insiders, fan club members and certain credit card holders that gives them first choice before general public sale.
"Representing Asbury Park, I understand the passion of fans who want to see acts like Bruce Springsteen," Pallone said. "[C]onsumers deserve the opportunity to purchase tickets in a fair and transparent marketplace."
A GAO investigation "will help Congress to take the necessary steps to address the most egregious practices in the online ticket selling space," he said.
Pascrell BOSS ACT (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing) sought to create a more transparent and regulated marketplace for concert and other ticket sales.
The industry, in turn, has become "as transparent as a brick wall, with consumers and fans often being locked out from seeing their favorite sports teams, artists, and shows," Pascrell said.
"We cannot allow this multi-billion dollar industry to operate in the shadows anymore," he said.
New York State earlier this year criminalized the use of ticket-buying bots. The congressmen want a federal equivalent.
Among the questions they want asked:
1) Who's buying tickets from primary ticket sellers and how many of these tickets are later resold by secondary ticket sales marketplaces?
2) Are consumers currently aware of how many tickets are available at time of purchase and what fees they will be required to pay before beginning their online ticket purchase? What would the impact on consumers and competition be if ticket vendors were required to disclose to consumers how many tickets are available at time of purchase? What would the impact on consumers and competition be if the fees required to be paid before consumers begin their online ticket purchase were required to be disclosed?
3) What is the impact on consumers and competition of non-transferable tickets? What would be the impact on consumers and competition if tickets were required to be transferable?
4) What is the impact on consumers and competition in the secondary market of ticket transferability restrictions, such as resale price floors, delivery delays, and the use of contract terms restricting ticket resale to particular exchanges?
5) What is the extent to which ticket “holds” (a/k/a “holdbacks” or “allocations”) outside of the public on-sale process prevent consumers from obtaining face-value tickets to concerts, sporting events, theater performances and other in-demand live events? What is the impact on consumers or competition of these holds?
6) What is the impact on consumers and competition of fraudulent tickets? What is the impact on consumers and competition of speculative tickets? What are some options to address these practices?
7) What is the extent to which automated ticket-purchasing programs and other computer software is used to purchase tickets or circumvent ticketing website safeguards used by primary ticket sellers?
The congressmen asked that the GAO produce a report within a year and publish and submit it to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives.
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