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California bills look to change ticket sales process, prices

The Consumer Federation of California said they've seen "20%, 30%, 40% - we've even seen 70% to 80% higher than the initial listed price."

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Anyone who has ever bought a concert ticket or a seat at a sporting event knows how steep fees can be, and in most cases, people don’t find out just how much they'll be paying until the end of the process.

However, California lawmakers are proposing legislation that would require ticket sellers to be much more transparent.

Getting a seat at the Golden 1 Center for a concert or a game can be pricey.

Tickets for Game 5 of the NBA playoff series between the Kings and the Warriors are about $200 each, but if anyone buys through Ticketmaster, they're looking at a $50 fee, which you don’t find out about until checkout.

Robert Herrell, with the Consumer Federation of California, is in favor of Assembly Bill 8.

“The problem isn’t resellers. In fact, Ticketmaster dominates the resale market. They have 70%-80% of the retail market themselves,” said Herrell.

Herrell was recently trying to get tickets to a K-pop concert for his daughter and found the entire experience frustrating.

“Two hours, you get the verified fan code that theoretically limits who can get in, and you’re trying at least half a dozen times. I thought I had a ticket, put in my credit card information, (and) no ticket,” said Herrell.

The consumer industry calls that the five-click syndrome. It's where ticket buyers have made it so far into the process that they are committed to the purchase, then the fees appear. Assembly Bill 8 wants one price the whole way.

It’s also about the ability to transfer and resell tickets.

Brian Hess, with Sports Fan Coalition, also spoke on behalf of Assembly Bill 8.

”You buy a ticket to a Kings game, you can’t go (so) you can give that ticket to a friend or resell it. That’s what this is about, consumer protections and protecting the right to transfer,” said Hess.

Primary ticket sellers have their own bill, Senate Bill 785, which would make it unlawful to buy tickets in excess and have resellers show the initial ticket price.

Some argued on Tuesday at a committee hearing for the bills - AB 8 doesn’t go far enough.

Andrew Governor spoke on behalf of multiple California sports teams, including the San Diego Padres, Oakland A’s, San Francisco 49ers and others.

“This simply rearranges the current system to the benefit of the secondary market and does nothing to help consumers get cheaper tickets but lead to increase prices in the secondary market,” said Governor.

Large companies like Stub Hub, Seat Geek and Vivid Seats showed up Tuesday in support of Assembly Bill 8, but the Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks opposed it.

If the idea seems familiar, it’s because it was modeled after the bill that made the cost of airline tickets one price, getting rid of taxes and fees being added at checkout.

This is not the first time Ticketmaster has been called out. In January, they testified on Capitol Hill after the site was overwhelmed when Taylor Swift tickets went on sale. The Justice Department is looking into whether Live Nation is a monopoly.

ABC10 reached out to Ticketmaster directly for comment but have not heard back. 


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