Skoufis to flag AG, accuses ticket vendors of disclosure noncompliance
A New York state senator who spearheaded the law requiring ticket companies to disclose all fees upfront is preparing to contact the state attorney general’s office about a few large online vendors he says are partially compliant with the new rules.
A new law requiring ticket companies to publicize all charges and fees from the start of the purchase process, and showing the ticket’s original value in a resale, took effect Monday.
“Unfortunately, there are violations, basically, across the board,” Skoufis said. “Some are employing all-in pricing, some are not.”
Some of the largest online ticket marketplaces have implemented parts of the new rules, but are inconsistent about when all charges and fees are disclosed for customers during the purchasing process.
SeatGeek and Vivid Seats initially show the ticket price for events in New York excluding fees on their websites. The higher, true cost of the ticket is shown after a person clicks on a ticket to see details of a certain seat.
“We fully support consumer transparency in our industry and worked with the sponsors throughout the legislative process,” according to a statement from Vivid Seats. “We have made the appropriate changes to our platform as required by the new law in New York.”
StubHub has a toggle switch allowing the customer to turn on seeing the ticket price with an estimation of the fee cost.
Ticketmaster shows the price with most fees from the get-go, but adds an order processing fee just before a customer pays.
“This is not an individual ticket fee, but a per-order fee,” according to a statement from Ticketmaster.
The company maintains the order processing fee can only be calculated once tickets are selected and that customers are alerted the fee will be added at the start of the purchase process.
“Ticketmaster.com as well as all our other owned sites and channels were ready and went live with all-in pricing for New York events starting last Friday in advance of the law going into effect on Aug. 29, 2022,” a spokesperson from Ticketmaster said in a statement Friday. “We advocated for this update and were preparing for it well in advance. We support industry-wide reforms to bring more clarity to ticket buyers and believe more can be done to aid artists in delivering their tickets to fans at price points they determine. We worked collaboratively with New York policymakers to support all-in pricing legislation.”
The State Department is reviewing, but has not finalized, regulations associated with this law. The state does not have other regulations or regulators.
Skoufis questions why Ticketmaster can only calculate the order processing fee once a ticket is established, and why other platforms can completely abide by the new law with 100% of fees disclosed out front.
“The whole practice [of hiding fees] is very deceitful,” said Skoufis, a Democrat from Woodbury. “…Before even a single click onto the seats, onto the ticket, is made, those fees, the total price, needs to be upfront in the listing.”
The Hudson Valley lawmaker is warning the companies he’ll be contacting the state attorney general’s office next week about investigating the potential consumer fraud if things don’t change in the coming days.
Tickets provided to the public for free also cannot be resold for a profit under the law, working to level the playing field for consumers.
TickPick, a New York-based online marketplace for event tickets, was the only company behind the all-in pricing changes as they moved through the Legislature this session.
Brett Goldberg, TickPick’s co-CEO, said the larger ticket companies are latching onto language in the law about when the purchase process begins for when they should show the full price with fees.
“Which in my mind is nonsense because the purchase process actually starts when you make it onto a website and you start searching for something,” Goldberg said. “You start looking for a ticket and that price should never change from the moment you see it from the start to the end.”
He adds there’s no excuse for other large ticket vendors to not be in full compliance with the new law.
“The law is crystal clear in its intention,” Goldberg said. “It’s to show all-in pricing.”
The state attorney general’s office investigates and address consumer fraud in the state. New Yorkers can file a consumer complaint on the AG’s website. Each complaint is evaluated for the start of a potential investigation.
The AG’s office reached a settlement with Ticket Fulfillment Services in October, securing millions of dollars in refunds for consumers who purchased tickets to events that were canceled because of COVID-19 in a recent consumer fraud case.
Skoufis has other consumer ticketing reform bills he plans to push next session, including a measure to address ticket holdbacks.