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The controversial move to abolish the five-per cent limit on ticket holdbacks was fast-tracked through legislature without public hearing
By Molly Long on 09 Jul 2018
A group of US secondary ticketing advocates have penned a letter urging New Jersey governor Phil Murphy not to sign a bill which would abolish 17 year-old laws capping ticket holdbacks to 5%. Already a controversial move, the bill was made even more so by the fact it was quietly fast-tracked through legislature without any public hearings on the matter.
Now, Scot X. Esdaile of US Minority Ticketing Group (USMTG), Tom Patania of NJ Ticket Brokers, Gary Adler of the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) and Darnell Goldson of TicketNetwork have come together to urge Murphy to reconsider the proposed changes, which have been heavily pushed by venue owners in the state.
In the letter, the group stress the need for the live event sector to be centred on consumers and their protection. It points out that while the new amendments operate under the guise of being consumer-friendly with some good measures, the overall outcome would harm both consumers and local small businesses alike.
This sentiment is echoed by Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the NJ Citizen Action advocacy group. Reacting to the proposed bill, she admits some of the parts of the bill are positive, but questions “why, at the same time, it’s removed some really important consumer protections, like the 5%.” She also pointed out the necessity for public hearings, saying: “These were all things we would have talked about if we had the opportunity go to a hearing and testify.”
“These were all things we would have talked about if we had the opportunity go to a hearing and testify”
The letter calls on research by the New York Attorney General which found more than 50% of tickets are commonly held back from big concerts and shows. A smaller pool of available tickets leads to soaring ticket prices and frustrated fans. This was certainly the case in 2009, when New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen held back some 2,262 tickets (12%) from public sale. Sixty per cent of the ten best sections in the venue were holdbacks, with only 108 of the seats closest to the stage available to the public.
Alongside the criticism of the removal of 5% on holdbacks, the letter also points out a number of other faults with the bill. Proposed changes would remove consumer protections regarding season ticket holders being able to lawfully sell tickets back to the venue for events they aren’t able to attend.
It also adds uncertainty to consumers’ ability to gift, sell or donate tickets they have purchased – the bill gives power to ticket issuers to revoke tickets for any reason without conditions.
However, as stated by consumer advocates and politicians alike, the bill does propose some important, consumer-friendly measures. These include a ban on venues overbooking concerts, a ban on ‘bot’ technology and a clear refund policy.
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