Music Industry

The BC government becomes the latest to take on bots and scalpers

It’s become fashionable for governments to take a stand against ticket-buy-bots, secondary sellers, and scalpers. British Columbia is the latest jurisdiction to take on the fight.

After consulting with the public, the government determined that people were upset at how tickets were sold and resold in the province and that gigs sold out too quickly, leading to plenty of frustration.

Under the new ticket sales act, the following would apply (and I’m quoting here):

  • Clear and prominent disclosure of prices;
  • Refund guarantees by secondary sellers and secondary ticketing platform operators;
  • Disclosure of key terms and conditions by primary and secondary sellers;
  • Ticket resellers to disclose they are secondary sellers;
  • Prohibition of the sale of speculative tickets that the seller does not possess or control; and
  • The ability for civil action to be taken by consumers or ticket selling businesses if they feel they have suffered losses as the result of a contravention of the legislation.

Let’s unpack this.

  1. No one likes being elbowed out of the way for a hot show by a software program that moves at light speed. However, the last anyone checked, bots can exist outside the borders of British Columbia. Good luck in prosecuting any outside entity buying up tickets for shows in BC.
  2. It’s ALWAYS hard to get tickets to hot events. It’s a matter of supply and demand. There are only so many seats in which to put bums. Nothing in this proposal deals with seat inventory issues. Nor should it.
  3. Clear disclosure of prices? Clear identification of secondary sellers? Disclosure of terms and conditions? Seems fair to me.
  4. On the surface, refund guarantees look good, but that could only cover established secondary sellers. Good luck on getting your money back from some scumball fraudster you found on Craigslist. (You shouldn’t be using them, anyway.)
  5. And what do they mean by a “money-back guarantee,” anyway? Under what circumstances could you get your money back? Details, please.
  6. Proving that someone is selling speculative tickets (i.e. tickets that appear to be available for sale before the actual on-sale dates) will annoy the StubHubs of the world because it will mess with their connections to volume buyers of tickets.
  7. Speaking of which, how will any of this affect TradeDesk, Ticketmaster’s liaison with mass buyers of tickets? That’s the relationship that was the subject of a CBC/Toronto Star investigation back in September. The Federal Competition Bureau looked at the situation and punted the problem back to the provinces.
  8. The ability to launch civil action against ripoffs is another feel-good thing. How will this be adjudicated? Will the BC government create an office to handle such matters? Could this not gum up the courts? We’re awfully short on details here.
  9. There’s nothing here about ensuring that consumers can purchase authentic tickets and not fakes and counterfeits. The future is in authenticating tickets purchased by legitimate buyers.
  10. What if I buy a ticket for a show that I ultimately can’t use? Can I sell it to a friend without breaking any rules?

We watch with interest.

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 38319 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

3 thoughts on “The BC government becomes the latest to take on bots and scalpers

  • I’m always in favour of these initiatives, but extremely leery of their implementation on a provincial scale when TM and most primary sellers are at least national, or usually international. For the same reason online gambling sites aren’t hosted on the continent, how does BC plan to enforce these rules when TM is a larger entity? Blocking it provincially? What’s the likelihood of TM changing all of its processes to meet one or two province’s demands?

  • I haven’t read the proposed legislation but when it comes to #8, the real impact of creating these “private rights of action” as they’re known, isn’t that hundreds of individuals all file individual lawsuits and gum up the courts. Going to court is too time consuming and too costly. Hardly any individual consumer would ever bother hiring a lawyer to fight this for them and an only the smallest and shadiest of ticket sellers is going to lose any sleep over the possibility of a few lawsuits, worth not much money, brought by individuals who are representing themselves and who have no experience with the court system.

    The thing about these clauses that makes company nervous is that they open up the possibility for class action lawsuits. A single class action lawsuit, representing tens of thousands of ticket buyers and which is being run by an experienced class action lawyer working on contingency, can represent a real threat even to massive companies like TicketMaster.

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsLet's take a close look at the Ontario Government's new plans for regulating the sales of event tickets. - A Journal of Musical Things

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