Bath­room pro­posal

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY MARKUS SCH­MIDT mschmidt@times­dis­patch.com (804) 649-6537 Twit­ter: @MSch­midtRTD

Con­ser­va­tives put pres­sure on GOP over trans­gen­der bill.

If you have ever had to can­cel your plans to at­tend a ma­jor con­cert or sports event and had so-called pa­per­less tick­ets from Tick­et­mas­ter, you know all about the night­mare of try­ing to re­sell or give your tick­ets to some­one else.

A pro­posal by Del. David B. Albo, R-Fair­fax, would of­fer a con­sumer­friendly fix to this prob­lem. House Bill 1825, the Ticket Re­sale Right Act, would make it il­le­gal for ticket com­pa­nies to pro­vide tick­ets solely through a de­liv­ery method that pre­vents cus­tomers from law­fully re­selling them on a tick­et­ing plat­form of their choice.

The leg­is­la­tion would also pro­hibit ticket com­pa­nies from pe­nal­iz­ing, dis­crim­i­nat­ing against or deny­ing ad­mis­sion to an event to any ticket pur­chaser on the ba­sis that they resold a ticket, or pur­chased a resold ticket, on a spe­cific in­ter­net tick­et­ing plat­form.

In 2009, ticket sales and dis­tri­bu­tion giant Tick­et­mas­ter be­gan giv­ing per­form­ers the op­tion of “pa­per­less” re­stricted tick­et­ing. Un­der this op­tion, mostly uti­lized by ma­jor acts, cus­tomers have to prove their pur­chase at the venue by show­ing photo ID and the credit card used to make the pur­chase, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to trans­fer a ticket to some­one else — un­less it’s through Tick­et­mas­ter’s own re­sale plat­form.

Tick­et­mas­ter in­tro­duced the op­tion in re­sponse to ticket scalp­ing and the grow­ing re­sale markup of tick­ets on sec­ondary mar­kets. Tick­et­mas­ter also uses other elec­tronic meth­ods with­out such re­stric­tions, in­clud­ing mo­bile en­try via smart­phones, that are more com­mon in the in­dus­try.

At the time, the com­pany held a vir­tual mo­nop­oly in the ticket sales mar­ket with 80 per­cent of U.S. venues.

Al­though Albo said he un­der­stands Tick­et­mas­ter’s re­sponse to the scalp­ing prob­lem, he be­lieves that it cre­ated a new prob­lem.

“There is a le­git­i­mate rea­son for why they are do­ing it. I’d get an­gry, too, if peo­ple buy tick­ets and sell them for three times their face value,” Albo said. “So they stopped the scalpers, but they also made it im­pos­si­ble for the nice cus­tomer to sell their ticket on their own terms.”

Tick­et­mas­ter has since merged with its only ma­jor com­peti­tor, event pro­moter Live Na­tion, form­ing Live Na­tion En­ter­tain­ment. To­day, LNE con­trols an es­ti­mated 70 per­cent of the mar­ket. Crit­ics ac­cuse the com­pany of us­ing its re­stricted tick­et­ing pol­icy in an ef­fort to build a sim­i­lar dom­i­nance in the sec­ondary mar­ket — in which they are al­ready a ma­jor player.

“Re­stricted tick­et­ing is not a sur­gi­cal so­lu­tion, it’s a treat­ment that’s worse than the dis­ease,” said Steve DelBianco, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of NetChoice, a Wash­ing­ton-based trade as­so­ci­a­tion of e-com­merce busi­nesses and on­line con­sumers who share the goal of pro­mot­ing con­ve­nience, choice and com­merce on the net.

Albo’s mea­sure would pro­tect the right of Vir­gini­ans to buy an event ticket and to give it away as they please, DelBianco said.

Nei­ther Tick­et­mas­ter nor LNE could be reached for com­ment.

Albo

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