Province hopes to put end to online ticket-buying bots

If the BC government has its way, purchasing tickets online to attend concerts and other high-profile events won’t end in a gust of frustration seconds after they go on sale.

The province Tuesday announced new ticket buying laws that it says will provide more consumer protections and fairer processes for people for when they buy tickets for events, online or at the ticket booth.

“These changes are going to make our live-event industry in B.C. even better for the people who matter most — the fans,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“The new laws will make the ticket buying process more transparent and equitable for consumers, so that everyone in our province will have a fair chance of getting tickets for their favourite acts and events.”

The proposed Ticket Sales Act would prohibit ticket buying software/bots that unfairly buy large quantities of live event tickets for resale at inflated prices — often before people can purchase them at face value.

The proposed changes will also regulate how tickets to live cultural, recreational and sporting events are bought and sold in B.C. — something that was previously regulated only by general consumer-protection laws.

“For too long, artists and concert goers were being unfairly hurt by ticket buying software and bots,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “This new ticket buying legislation will ensure that people are protected with better price transparency.

“Most of all, people will be able to enjoy the diverse performances and entertainment B.C. has to offer, without being unfairly gouged at the box office.”

The ticket sales act, if passed, will require:

  • 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.

The act focuses on those who sell tickets as a business, rather than consumer-to-consumer transactions.

It follows a 2018 consultation to learn what British Columbians thought about the current ticket buying and selling process.

Most consumers said that they thought tickets sell out too quickly for events and were generally frustrated with the ticket buying process.

In 2017, Ontario passed similar legislation, its Ticket Sales Act included in omnibus consumer protection legislation.

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