Vancouver MLA calls for action against ‘predatory’ ticket resale market

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Public outcry over ticket availability and price gouging for upcoming Paul McCartney gig in Vancouver sparks call to action.

Paul McCartney performs live on stage at The O2 Arena on May 23, 2015 in London, England.

Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images

Paul McCartney performs live on stage at The O2 Arena on May 23, 2015 in London, England.

British Columbia needs to do more to protect consumers from predatory ticket practices, a Vancouver MLA says.

Spencer Chandra Herbert, NDP MLA for Vancouver-West End, wrote to Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton on Monday, demanding action on ticket scalping.

“Constituents tell me stories of getting ready to buy their favourite artist’s tickets when they are released for sale, only to be denied as another corporation purchased all of the tickets for re-sale on their website,” wrote Chandra Herbert. “The tickets appear for re-sale moments later at often outrageous prices. My constituents are sick of being gouged.”

The latest outcry is over tickets to pop legend Paul McCartney’s upcoming Vancouver gigs on April 19 and 20 at Rogers Arena.

Tickets officially went on sale at Ticketmaster Monday, with prices ranging from $39.50 to $295.

Within minutes, people complained about the lack of available ticketing options while re-sales on Ticketmaster’s own website were already advertising seats in the $358 to $1,425 range.

Chandra Herbert said the lack of consumer protection in B.C. means the number of tickets legitimately available to the public at face value are in short supply.

Meanwhile, scalpers (some who use computer programs to buy large quantities of tickets) and scammers (who sell fraudulent tickets online) reap the rewards.

“I think we need some consumer protection in place to stop this from happening,” Chandra Herbert told Metro. “If we had one company buying up all the food in the province and reselling it for twice the price, people would be outraged.”

The politician’s call to action has the support of at least one local ticket broker.

Vancouver Tickets’ general manager Kingsley Bailey said he has long supported legislation that would require re-sellers to be licensed and force Ticketmaster, which has a monopoly on sales and also runs its own re-sale website, to be more transparent.

Between numerous pre-sales, holdbacks for promoters, preferred resellers and VIP packages, Kingsley guesses about 50 per cent of a venue’s tickets actually go on sale to the public when box offices open.

“That’s a conservative guess but can you blame them? Wouldn’t any monopoly do that if they could increase profits ten-fold?” he said. “There’s no transparency. People are dissatisfied with the marketplace.”

Brokers like Kingsley then bear the brunt of the public’s rage, he said.