March 25, 2023
Dear Colorado Lawmaker:
We, the undersigned national consumer protection and live event fan advocates, launched the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights (www.ticketbuyerbillofrights.org) earlier this month, a framework for ticketing legislation that can improve the live events ticketing market that serves millions of fans each year. We are writing with regards to SB23-060, Consumer Protection in Event Ticket Sales.
We opposed the initial version of the bill because of a number of provisions intended to concentrate power in the industry and put consumers at a disadvantage. However, we are pleased to share that we now support the amended version of SB 23-060 because the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee added vital consumer protections to the bill through amendment L033. This amendment requires the reporting of illegal bot activity and requires transparency of ticket holdbacks. These consumer protections align with our Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights. We support these provisions, and amendment L033 requires sellers to reveal the number of tickets they would otherwise secretly hold back from the public on-sale of tickets. This added transparency will end a deceptive trade practice and will provide more information to consumers so they are better informed when shopping for tickets. We will continue to support this legislation so long as amendment L033 remains in the bill. We encourage you to protect Colorado’s consumers and ensure that this amendment remains in the bill.
While you may be contacted by large and powerful players in the live events marketplace with their rhetorical talking points opposing the holdback provision, please hold the line. Support for holdback disclosures is broad. In fact, this week, legislation was introduced in the United States Senate that includes similar transparency disclosure around deceptive ticket holdbacks.
Ticket holdbacks are deceptive: Sellers withhold up to HALF of all tickets for shows.
This is a well-documented problem that has been investigated by the US GAO, New York Attorney General, and the City and County of Honolulu. This was a huge problem for the Taylor Swift tour, as was documented by the Wall Street Journal. The Journal estimated that 94% of Swift tickets were held back for those with special or exclusive access. Even today, Ticketmaster continues to send out access codes for held back Taylor Swift tickets.
This deceptive industry scheme creates fake scarcity to induce a ticket buying frenzy so that consumers panic, and in believing there are scarce tickets left, are compelled into buying now. Consumers without special or exclusive access to pre-sales are abused during the public on-sale of tickets where they may miss work and spend hours in an online waiting room only to be left with intentionally opaque options. When the true inventory of tickets is not presented to fans, they are not capable of making the best possible purchase decision.
Transparency is needed in the ticket market; Beginning with revealing true inventory of tickets
It is critical that those selling tickets in the primary market (venue box offices, and contracted primary ticketing companies like Ticketmaster and AXS) reveal to consumers how many tickets they are secretly “holding back” from fans when tickets go on sale. This way, when informed about how more tickets will be released for sale in the coming days, weeks, and months, they can better choose whether to buy now, wait, or comparison shop elsewhere. An informed consumer is a more empowered consumer.
There are a few other remaining anti-competitive provisions that favor only one side of the industry that we would like to see fixed. However, the inclusion of the holdbacks provision is such an important win for consumers that we, the undersigned organizations, support SB 23-060 as amended with amendment L033 and encourage you to do the same.
John Breyault, Vice President Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud - National Consumers League
Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection, Consumer Federation of America
Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs, Public Knowledge
Brian Hess, Executive Director, Sports Fans Coalition
Chris VanDeHoef, President, Fan Freedom
Gary Adler, Executive Director, Protect Ticket Rights
Chuck Bell, Director of Advocacy, Consumer Reports