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US senators introduce Junk Fee Prevention Act

The new legislation, which would eliminate "excessive" ticketing fees for concerts, follows calls from president Joe Biden

By James Hanley on 24 Mar 2023

The American Rescue Package was signed into law by President Joe Biden

Joe Biden

US Senators have introduced new legislation which would eliminate “excessive” ticketing fees for concerts and other events.

Senators Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse have announced the “Junk Fee Prevention Act” following calls from president Joe Biden during his State of the Union address.

Biden argued that hidden or unexpected fees “are not only costly to consumers, but they can stifle competition by encouraging companies to use increasingly sophisticated tools to disguise the true price consumers face”.

If passed, the new legislation would eliminate “excessive, hidden, and unnecessary fees” imposed on consumers and “ensure transparency” in industries such as ticketing by requiring the full prices of services to be provided upfront.

“Concealed surprise fees – nickel and diming Americans to distraction – must be stopped,” says Blumenthal. “Airline travel, concert going, common purchases – seemingly almost everywhere – consumers are compelled to pay hidden excessive charges.

“Our bill will help end this price gouging – forcing full disclosure upfront and restricting abusive fees. It will mandate basic common sense fairness and transparency, which consumers rightly demand and deserve.”

“Our Junk Fee Prevention Act would provide consumers with the transparency they deserve when making a purchase”

“Consumers are charged hidden fees when purchasing everything from flights to concert tickets,” adds Whitehouse. “Our Junk Fee Prevention Act would provide consumers with the transparency they deserve when making a purchase.”

Live Nation has backed president Biden’s call for transparency around ticketing fees last year. The company went on to launch the Fair Ticketing Act last month and has received support from the likes of CAA, UTA, Wasserman Music and WME in its calls for ticketing reforms. Among its recommendations are for all-in pricing across all ticketing marketplaces introduced nationally so that fans know the full cost of a ticket plus fees right upfront.

Ticketing fees have been thrust under the microscope of late after The Cure persuaded Ticketmaster to offer partial refunds for “unduly high” ticketing fees charged in the Verified Fan sale for the band’s upcoming North American tour.

The firm had come in for criticism during this week’s sale when ticket-holders posted screenshots online showing some fees exceeding the cost of the tickets themselves.

Neil Young has also weighed in on the dispute, posting under the headline “concert touring is broken” on his website.

“It’s over, the old days are gone,” he writes. “I get letters blaming me for $30,000 tickets for a benefit I am doing. That money does not go to me or the benefit. Artists have to worry about ripped off fans blaming them for Ticketmaster add-ons and scalpers.

“Concert tours are no longer fun. Concert tours [are] not what they were.”

“Ticketmaster unilaterally decides which tickets it advertises and sells as ‘Official Platinum’ based on a given event”

Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit has been launched against Ticketmaster in Canada, alleging the company “intentionally misleads consumers for their own financial gain”.

The case – filed by Montreal-based law firm LPC Avocat Inc – says a customer bought two market-driven “platinum” tickets for Drake’s upcoming 14 July show at the Bell Centre for C$789.54 (€533.70) each. However, it says that when Drake added a second show for the following night, the same seats could be purchased for more than $350 less.

As per the Toronto Star, the suit also claims that Ticketmaster knew Drake would be performing two shows at the venue, but “concealed this information” to “squeeze out” as much money as possible from fans buying tickets for the first date.

“Ticketmaster unilaterally decides which tickets it advertises and sells as ‘Official Platinum’ based on a given event,” reads the filing. “The result is that most, if not all, of the tickets advertised and sold as ‘Official Platinum’ are neither ‘premium tickets’ nor ‘some of the best seats in the house’ and are, in fact, just regular tickets sold by Ticketmaster at an artificially inflated premium in bad faith.”

Ticketmaster has not commented on the allegations.


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