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BCers tell gov't survey they want ticket resales capped, bots banned

Last Updated Aug 13, 2018 at 3:54 pm PDT


VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Frustrated fans of live music and sporting events like the idea of capping ticket resales in B.C.

The provincial government has released the results of a survey which shows more than 6,500 participants support limiting prices, as well as boosting technology to keep bots from snapping up most tickets as soon as they go on sale.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says now the results are out, the province will be consulting industry stakeholders and watching other jurisdictions to see what works as far as legislation goes.

“There’s still work to be done,” he tells NEWS 1130, adding he has his staff watching what’s happening overseas now that Ticketmaster announced it will be shutting down it’s secondary sites in Europe after a U.K. watchdog threatened legal action.

“My expectation is that policy work will now continue, consultations will now continue and we’ll be going forward on that basis.”

His biggest concern is making sure British Columbians have a fair shot at getting that coveted ticket to the event they want to attend. “A lot of people are fed up with the fact that you know they go online, they wait an hour, an then they’re told, ‘Sorry, tickets were all scooped up in the first two minutes!'”

Farnworth adds the government might also look at making it mandatory to have ID matching the name on the tickets to make sure the person who bought the tickets is using the tickets.

‘No teeth’: experts concerned resale price caps won’t be effective

At least 53 per cent like the idea of capping prices at 25 per cent above face value, something local ticket broker Kingsley Bailey says is unrealistic, even though he supports the idea.

“There is a high level of support for setting a price limit on resold tickets (83%). Of the price limit options listed in the questionnaire, the most popular was the lowest option – 25% above the ticket’s face value. This was supported by 53% of participants who felt there should be a limit. The other options listed in the questionnaire were 50% above face value, 75% above face value, 100% above face value, 200% above face value, and “Other”,” reads the survey released by the province. (BCGov)

“There’s no teeth in that because there’s an unlevel playing field. They want to cap it but…primary sellers have dynamic pricing, and dynamic pricing mean what the market will bear, so there’s no ceiling. If they’re going to put a cap on the reseller tickets, they can’t because there will be no teeth. They need to address dynamic pricing,” he says.

“If they want to correct the problems right off the bat, [use] licensed brokers,” he says, sharing that licensed brokers will fix problems that come up as if they don’t, their license could be revoked.

“I think that’s the first step. If you can license somebody to be in the business, they will, as a stakeholder, do what they can to maintain the industry and they’ll do it the right way.”

Bailey also says there needs to be legislation banning bots and mitigating secondary sellers, and there needs to be more transparency. “I want to see fairness.”

Erin Benjamin, Executive Director of Music Canada Live, agrees with Bailey’s concerns, pointing to Ontario where the province is backtracking on legislation put in place on January 1st this year to cap resale tickets at 50 per cent above face value.

“We really believe [price caps] force even more activity into the illicit market and do nothing to protect consumers,” says Benjamin.”Anti-bot legislation will be important, absolutely. The industry is already working really hard on that, spending millions of dollars investing in innovative technology that will protect consumers…but our concern around price caps remains the same and consistent across the country, it’s not in the interest of consumers.”

Enforcement has yet to be proven in any market so far, according to Benjamin. She says if you have someone who’s willing to pay more then you’ll find people selling tickets at jacked up prices, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

“The cost of enforcement–is it really realistic to take taxpayer money and devise and deploy an enforcement regime when there are other priorities? I’m not sure.” She adds governments will have to work with the industry to hammer out a plan that will be effective in putting consumer needs first.

“The goal is to get tickets into the hands of the fans safely.” She is also applauding individual artists who are taking matters into their own hands and releasing tickets in a way that reflects market demand, adding she thinks artists will continue to evolve and get creative to make sure their fans get tickets.

More from the survey

Consumers taking part in the online survey during three weeks in March have also admitted to buying tickets from brokers, not because they wanted to but because they simply had no other options.

An overwhelming 90.4 per cent of people say they have had troubles purchasing tickets through a primary seller.

Provincial survey shows 90.4% of respondents say they’ve had difficulties buying tickets from a primary seller. (BCGov)

It seems to be pretty widely agreed upon that technology plays a critical role in buying tickets and most people believe bots are to blame. People also say they want bots banned and for tickets purchased through a bot to be cancelled.

Luckily, it doesn’t appear fraudulent tickets are being sold on a wide scale, only 11 per cent of people say they picked up fake tickets after buying through a secondary seller. As expected, most people who found themselves in that situation demanded refunds from the secondary seller. Only 16 per cent of buyers say they actually got their money back.

Provincial survey shows only 11% of respondents they picked up fake tickets after buying from a secondary seller. (BCGov)

The most common concerns listed by respondents include:

  • ticket price being unfair in comparison to the face value (86%)
  • ticket being too expensive (85%)
  • ticket potentially not granting entry to the event (71%)
  • not receiving a ticket for which they had paid (65%)


And while they were less common, unclear or missing information regarding total ticket price, taxes/fees or seat location and ticket purchases being processed in US dollars were also on the list.

Respondents also shared that it’s very rare they end up selling the tickets they purchased (nearly 70 per cent say they’ve never sold tickets they purchased)–only letting them go under special circumstances, like an emergency comes up and they can no longer make the event.

Reseller StubHub reacts to B.C. poll

Well-known ticket reseller StubHub tells NEWS 1130 the company has been watching intently and supports taking steps when it comes to protecting customers. A statement from StubHub spokesperson Aimee Campbell reads:

“StubHub puts fans first by providing a safe, secure and transparent open marketplace. StubHub is supportive of measures that protect consumers and serve the best interest of fans including banning the use of bots. We look forward to reviewing the government’s proposals once they’re introduced.”

-With files from Marcella Bernardo