Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs
House lawmakers on Wednesday grilled executives at some of the country’s top online ticketing companies, including Ticketmaster and StubHub, over the industry’s practices.
The members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations sought answers on how the companies make decisions on setting prices and availability for tickets sold online.
“Unfortunately, the industry’s online financial success has often been at the expense of the consumer,” subcommittee Chairwoman Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) said during her opening remarks.
“While it is certainly easier to buy tickets to live events today, online ticketing sales have led to anti-consumer practices across the industry,” she continued.
Wednesday’s hearing with executives from six major ticketing companies follows years of frustration among lawmakers and the general public with online ticketing, with complaints of high prices or fees and often scarce tickets to events.
DeGette cited reports from the New York state attorney general and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), both from prior years. The New York attorney general report from 2016 found several cases of ticket brokers making massive profits by buying and reselling coveted tickets to big events. The 2018 GAO report, meanwhile, found that more than 25 percent of ticket prices online are frequently not visible until consumers are late in the buying process.
DeGette highlighted five issues in the industry: high hidden fees, restrictions on transferring tickets, the lack of transparency on how many tickets are available, fraudulent “white label” websites and speculative ticket sales.
Amy Howe, the chief operating officer of ticketing giant Ticketmaster, said she shared those concerns, but told lawmakers her company is intent on addressing them. Howe also shifted some of the blame to bad actors, including bots which quickly buy up tickets, and what she called a difficult market, where many consumers were chasing too few tickets.