A week ago, CBC News and The Toronto Star broke new investigative reports which detailed Ticketmaster‘s hush-hush new platform for ticket resellers, TradeDesk, which aids scalpers in selling tickets on the secondary market while turning a blind eye to their violations of Ticketmaster purchasing rules. The news quickly went viral, prompting widespread outrage from Ticketmaster’s customers.
The following day, Ticketmaster issued a response to the allegations in the reports which sought to explain TradeDesk and categorically deny any wrongdoing on their part. You can read our dissection of Ticketmaster’s response here [Spoiler alert: It doesn’t do much of anything to dissuade angry notions about their controversial TradeDesk platform and practices].
It seems that the government has the same questions about TradeDesk that we had. On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) penned a letter to Michael Rapino, the CEO of Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, asking for clarifications on the still-murky details of TicketDesk. The letter asks Rapino and Live Nation to provide a response to their inquiries by next Friday, October 5th.
Moran and Blumenthal are no strangers to fighting against misconduct in the secondary ticket market. In late 2016, they helped sponsor and enact the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, better known as the BOTS Act, effectively criminalizing the use of ticket bot software to hack websites and purchase tickets before average consumers.
You can read the letter below:
Mr. Michael Rapino
President and Chief Executive Officer
Live Nation Entertainment
9348 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210
Dear Mr. Rapino:
CBC News reported on September 19th that Ticketmaster, the live-event ticket sales and distribution subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, recruits and employs professional ticket scalpers to circumvent the ticket purchasing limits on its own primary ticket sales platform in an effort to expand its ticket resale division. According to the article, Ticketmaster utilizes a professional reseller program called TradeDesk, which provides a web-based inventory for scalpers to effectively purchase large quantities of tickets from Ticketmaster’s primary ticket sales website and resell these tickets for higher prices on its own resale platform. Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention.
Given our ongoing interest in protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, we seek clarification on the use of this program. The enacted Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016 prohibits the “circumvention of a security measure, access control system, or other technological control or measure on an Internet website or online service that is used by the ticket issuer to enforce posted event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of posted online ticket purchasing order rule.” Please provide responses to the following questions:
Describe the event ticket purchasing limits that Ticketmaster currently employs for sales on its primary ticket sales platform. Additionally, how does the company identify computer programs used to circumvent these purchasing limits?
Do Ticketmaster’s ticket purchasing limits and associated detection practices apply to users of its online program, TradeDesk? If not, please explain.
What are the specific rules and processes of compliance for participating TradeDesk users as it relates to ticket purchasing limits and other relevant consumer protection priorities? Please share any documents and guidance materials that are provided to TradeDesk users.
What role does Ticketmaster’s Professional Reseller Handbook play in deterring its resellers from engaging in illegal ticket purchasing activities?
Please provide your written response as soon as possible, but no later than 5 p.m. on October 5, 2018. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
[H/T Rolling Stone]