Two United States senators are urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate what they say are suspicious practices in the online ticketing industry.
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) wrote a letter to FTC Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen Sept. 13 expressing their concerns that consumers are being tricked into buying tickets from online retailers posing as direct sellers or private label ticket brokers, especially on sites like Google and Yahoo!. Many complain that fake ticket sites utilize sophisticated SEO tactics to push scalped tickets to the top of the search engine results and confuse people about who they’re buying tickets from.
“We understand that certain actors in the market employ practices to confuse consumers regarding the identity of vendors. Several private label domains appear to intentionally suggest to consumers a direct and formal affiliation with a particular event venue,” the letter reads.
Primary ticketing sites like Ticketmaster and secondary sites like StubHub and Vivid Seats lose traffic to white label ticket sellers for their concert and event tickets, TicketNetwork CEO Don Vaccaro told Amplify. “Private label sites erode the margins.”
Booker and Hatch in the letter wrote that aides did an internet search of “Madison Square Garden Tickets” and discovered that the top result wasn’t affiliated with MSG, according to The Hill. Instead, it was a private label ticketer.
The senators maintain that such sites could fool the public into believing they are buying tickets directly from vendors and don’t know they are being charged higher prices due to markups.
“We respectfully ask that the FTC review the use of private labels as vehicles for confusion, price obfuscation, and overall consumer harm,” they wrote.
Read Booker and Hatch’s complete letter here.
It appears that elected officials in both houses of Congress are concerned. In a July letter to the FTC, Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) cited a 2014 FTC case involving TicketNetwork and its affiliated companies for engaging in similar practices. The company had reached a $1.4 million settlement with government officials.
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