The Issue - Michigan Ticket Fairness

The Issue

Every year, an increasing number of big ticket companies, venues and concert promoters impose unfair, anti-consumer and anti-competitive ticket practices for live events in Michigan.

Fans, small businesses and nonprofits are being taken advantage of by policies that limit how a ticket can be bought and sold and by locking the ticket to the original purchaser's credit card. Scalpers are destroying the ticket market by using computer programs to skip the line and buy up all the tickets before they’re available to the public. And artists and venues are only putting a small fraction of tickets to an event up for sale to the public, with the rest going to exclusive credit card holders, fan-club presales, promoters, and other VIPs.

Michigan Ticket Fairness aims to provide fans and businesses with fairness and accountability when purchasing sports and entertainment tickets. Here’s how:

Ban Nontransferable Restricted Tickets

Restricted tickets tie a ticket to the credit card used to purchase it. An individual must present their credit card with a matching ID to enter the event. Restricted tickets are typically nontransferable and nonrefundable. This means fans and businesses can’t:

  • Give away tickets as gifts;
  • Donate tickets to charity;
  • Use tickets to show appreciation to clients or staff; or
  • Resell tickets if they can no longer attend the game or concert.

Make Software “Bots” Illegal

Ticket scalpers often use sophisticated software programs, or “bots,” that automatically purchase large blocks of tickets from the online box office the second tickets go on sale. This practice takes away consumers’ access to tickets in the primary ticket market and artificially distorts supply and demand, often raising the prices of tickets in the secondary market. Right now, these programs are perfectly legal in Michigan.

Require Venues to Tell the Truth About Ticket Sales

It’s no secret that artists and venues hold back a certain amount of tickets for companies, recording industry executives, VIPs, fan clubs, credit card holders and personal friends. But it’s recently become clear just how few tickets are actually made available to the average fan – for popular concerts, as few as 10 percent of tickets are available at the public onsale. Fans deserve the right to know whether they have a chance of buying tickets when they go on sale.

The Facts

  • The use of restricted tickets is growing in Michigan. In 2012, only 8 concerts used restricted tickets. This year, more than 20 concerts will use or have used restricted tickets -- a 60 percent year-to-year increase!

  • The Detroit Pistons and Lions have begun locking tickets to fans' credit cards, with the Pistons selling them as an option this year.

  • Eleven states have considered legislation to combat unfair ticket practices. New York has banned nontransferable tickets since 2011.

  • At a Justin Beiber concert in Fresno, California, 92 percent of tickets were reserved for special groups and VIPs. Efforts to obtain the hold back records of Bieber’s July 28 concert at Joe Louis Arena through a Freedom of Information Act request have been unsuccessful.

Who is Impacted

Unfair ticket practices impact everyone -- fans, businesses and nonprofits. 

Recent Studies

Paper by researchers at the University Of Michigan Ross School Of Business and Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School.

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published this page 2013-08-15 13:40:02 -0400
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