Ticket Scalping and Gift Cards Debate

(Debate, 18 October 2017, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament) 

I rise to make a brief contribution in support of the Fair Trading Amendment (Gift Cards and Ticket Scalping) Bill 2017, which introduces sensible measures to help prevent the scourge of online ticket scalping that is ripping everyday people off.

My electorate is culturally active and my constituents regularly buy tickets to events including live music like indie and underground bands, festivals and symphony orchestras, as well as performance dance and theatre.

While much of the discussion around scalping has focussed on major commercial concerts and large sporting events, smaller boutique and quirky events are also regularly targeted. Ticket resale sites quickly buy tickets in bulk through bots to a range of events and then jack up the price on their sites.

The mark-ups can be phenomenal with none of the additional profit supporting the entertainment industry. The process is about ripping people off. The need for official ticket sellers to invest in anti-bot software to try to prevent this practice in turn increases the cost of tickets and booking fees, further disadvantaging the consumer.

Investigations by consumer group Choice found that most people who purchase tickets from resale sites think that they are purchasing from the official seller and are not aware they are paying massive mark-ups. Often the inflated priced tickets go up on these resale sites while official sellers are still selling tickets at the genuine price. But consumers get tricked into paying a higher price because resale sites look official and come up at the top of search engine searches for events because resale sites pay for this to happen.

My office did a quick test and Googled an upcoming concert at the Enmore Theatre. Tickets that are currently selling for $63 on Ticketek are selling on the Viagogo site for $119. Viagogo came up first in the Google search.

Some punters may choose not to attend an event after a search because they think the price is too high, when in fact it is within their price range on the official site.

The bill will ban the use of software bots used to purchase bulk tickets and put a 10 per cent cap on profits from the resale of a ticket. There are also new requirements to publish certain information about tickets including whether they are being resold, the original price and the location of a seat.

I welcome provisions in the bill aimed at ensuring that people can informally sell unwanted tickets to their friends and colleagues through social media.

While the bill will not be able to stamp out unfair scalping, it will make a real difference to breaking the business model that resale sites rely on and improves consumer protections.

I commend the bill.

 

Full debate in parliament HERE