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No more ticket 'cherry-picking'

Published (3/13/2009)
By Lee Ann Schutz
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With today’s sophisticated computer-ticketing technology, thousands of tickets for a popular concert can be sold in a matter of seconds. That may please the entertainment industry, but it has created some questionable ticket reselling practices.

Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) said the issue came to his attention when tickets went on sale in early February for Bruce Springsteen concerts, and “consumers didn’t think they had ample opportunity to purchase them at face value.” He said people were redirected from the Ticketmaster site to TicketsNow, a secondary site the company owns, where they had the opportunity to pay considerably more than the ticket’s face value.

Atkins sponsors HF819 that would prohibit the initial Internet ticket selling entity from offering tickets greater than their face value and establishing a seven-day waiting period before offering tickets through a reseller business.

In the Springsteen situation, Atkins told the House Commerce and Labor Committee March 5, sellers were “cherry-picking the very best tickets and not making them available to the average consumer when they first went on sale.” After committee approval, the bill was referred to the House Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee.

Joseph Freeman, a senior vice president with Ticketmaster, explained that when a request could not be met, such as six tickets together in a certain section, the purchaser could refine their search in the primary market or click to go to a link to a resell market site.

The company voluntarily removed the link to the reseller site. “We’ve learned a difficult lesson in the last month,” he said. “Ticket sales is a supply and demand business. There is a saying in our business: ‘They only make one first row.’”

A companion, SF759, sponsored by Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), awaits action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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