Ever buy a ticket to a show, only to get hit with a surprise fee?
A new proposal under consideration in Trenton would change that, requiring ticket venues to disclose up front the full ticket price, including taxes and all of the various fees and service charges.
The 11-page bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, D-Hudson, Bergen, is scheduled to be discussed by the Assembly’s Regulated Professions Committee today, and may be voted on later.
The law was last changed in 2008, when state lawmakers increased the maximum resale markup from 20 percent to 50 percent while opening the door to legal Internet sales. This new proposal eliminates that price ceiling.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Essex, said the proposal would give consumers options.
"It is a good consumer bill,” Lesniak said. “If I have tickets and if I get sick and can't go, and I want to get the value of the tickets back, (brokers are) the best way. Similarly, if I want to see an event and it's sold-out, and I want to see the show and am willing to pay a premium."
The Casino Association of New Jersey opposes the bill, said its president, Robert Griffin.
“Show tickets have been marketing tools for the casinos for years, “ Griffin said in a statement. “This legislation limits our flexibility with using entertainment in our overall marketing efforts to both casino and noncasino guests.”
Griffin did not return a call seeking comment.
One provision still to be worked on deals with paperless tickets. The proposed bill would ban artists and venues from issuing electronic tickets that cannot be readily transferred or require documentation, such as a credit card, that a secondhand buyer may not have.
Furthermore, Lesniak said artists have contacted him because they would like to be able to reserve tickets for fans. He said Bruce Springsteen, for one, wanted to keep 10 percent of the tickets available through a webpage as a condition of playing at a particular venue.
"I certainly don't want to rule out Bruce Springsteen playing at Revel at some point in the future," Lesniak said.
The other changes would remake some of the ways entertainment tickets are bought and sold in New Jersey. The biggest change for consumers, Lesniak said, would be an expansion of ways for consumers to purchase tickets.
Not only would entertainment venues have to make public their total number of tickets available, they would have to reveal how many would be available to the general public and how many would be held back.
The proposal would also block people who operate or work for the venue, so-called “insiders,” from making special arrangements that would allow them to sell or promise tickets to third parties before the tickets are available to the general public.
Venues would also have be required to code tickets and keep the records on file for five years.
Resellers would also have to disclose whether or not they actually possessed the tickets they were selling — and they would have to fully refund a purchaser's money within 10 days if they could not procure the tickets.
The bill would limit resellers to already-existing businesses with an actual physical presence in the state.
Violators of the law could face penalties of up to $10,000 and 18 months imprisonment, and could run afoul of the state Consumer Fraud Act. Violations of the act can be punished with fines of up to $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for subsequent offenses. Additionally, the person could be required to repay the costs and up to three times the price, and face a cease-and-desist order from the state Attorney General.
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