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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.