The covid restrictions are falling away, there’s music in the air — or at least in your head — and many New Yorkers are ready for the return of live entertainment.
But then reality sets in as they endure the stress and cost of purchasing tickets online, being cut off while trying to make a purchase, losing a bid, being locked out of a venue even though the event isn’t sold out and paying the exorbitant fees and charges that companies tack on to the price of every ticket.
It’s enough to make you want to turn on the radio and stay in the backyard for another summer.
New York’s patchwork mess of ticket regulations favors the ticket sellers over the fans. And when the state’s regulations expire on July 1, it’s likely the status quo will extended unless state lawmakers act quickly.
State Sen. James Skoufis has studied New York’s practices relating to tickets to live events for the past year and has proposed a number of reforms that will shift the pendulum back toward consumers and away from the promoters and entertainment conglomerates.
“(The) Ticketmasters of the world want to perpetuate a system that allows them to continue fleecing hardworking New Yorkers,” said Skoufis, chair of the state Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee. It’s time, he said, “to put an end to the outright thievery that consumers face on a daily basis.”
Among the provisions in Skoufis’ bill (S6716) include a prohibition against resale platforms allowing unlicensed brokers to sell tickets on their sites; extending refund requirements for postponed events; mandatory reporting of bot activity; disclosure of a ticket’s face value upon resale; a ban on speculative ticket sales; and a mandate for “all-in pricing,” which makes the first price consumers see include the total amount of fees to avoid costly surprises.
In addition, the bill would cap “holdbacks” of tickets for any event at 10% so more tickets are available, crack down on manipulative pricing schemes like Ticketmaster’s “Platinum Seats,” ban the resale of free tickets and prohibit “exclusivity clauses” in primary ticketing contracts that help drive up prices.
Both Consumer Reports and the National Consumers League have endorsed the legislation, calling it “long overdue.”
The bill needs an Assembly sponsor, and if it’s going to get passed before July 1, lawmakers need to get on it before the legislative session ends on June 10.
This is important consumer legislation that’s arriving just when old legislation is set to expire and when New Yorkers will want to be flocking back to live events.
A fast-turnaround to get this legislation passed will be a challenge, but it will be worth it.