Music Industry

Competition Bureau dismisses claims against Ticketmaster’s scalper bots

If you remember the CBC/Toronto investigation last year (review it here and here), Ticketmaster came under fire over its TradeDesk service which allegedly used proprietary software–a “tool,” not a “bot”–to help rapidly get tickets into the hands of ticket resellers.

TradeDesk is said to allow people behind dozens or even hundreds of Ticketmaster accounts to buy tickets in a very efficient way, thereby allowing them to post vast numbers tickets for sale on the secondary market.

The allegations insisted that this gave the secondary sellers favoured access to tickets over individual ticket buyers who, as a result, might not have any other choice than to buy tickets far above face value on the secondary market. Unfair business practices, deception and all that.

The case went before the Competition Bureau in Ottawa which launched an investigation. Today, it ruled that Ticketmaster did not contravene the Competition Act.

Um, okay. But how and why did you come to this conclusion? There’s been nothing on that.

Meanwhile, it looks like the Competition Bureau has punted things back to the provinces which are normally the places for these kinds of complaints.

However, Ticketmaster is not off the hook yet. The Competition Bureau is still pursuing a case against the company, Live Nation and a few affiliated companies. The Bureau wants to stop everyone from making false and/or misleading claims regarding the advertised prices for concerts, sporting events and theatre productions.

Deceptive how? By not including the final price in the advertised face value. Once you add in all the taxes and fees, the price of the ticket can be much, much higher than what you thought you’d have to pay. This has been called “drip pricing.”

Here’s a quote from the Interim Commissioner of the Competition Bureau: “The Competition Act is the best tool to crack down on false or misleading representations, including misleading ticket price advertising. That’s why we sued Ticketmaster, and we remain committed to advancing our ongoing litigation.”

There will be public hearings this fall. This should be interesting.

Meanwhile, the US is holding government hearings next month.

More at the CBC.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38324 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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