Pascrell and Pallone Introduce “BOSS and SWIFT ACT” to Finally Rein in Out-of-Control Ticket Marketplace

Pascrell and Pallone Introduce “BOSS and SWIFT ACT” to Finally Rein in Out-of-Control Ticket Marketplace

Introduced the day before Taylor Swift plays three sold out shows in East Rutherford, the plan endorsed by major consumer groups will enshrine first-ever overarching federal rules for the broken ticket market

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06) today introduced their updated BOSS and SWIFT Act legislation to provide needed transparency and regulation to the badly corrupted live events ticket marketplace. The legislation is named in honor of New Jersey hero Bruce Springsteen and fans of Taylor Swift who were blocked when trying to buy concert passes during the recent ticketing fiasco. The revised plan specifically addresses issues including hidden fees, on-sale transparency, buyer protections, speculative tickets, and deceptive white label websites.

 

“For too long, millions of American fans have been unable to get a fair shake for their tickets and cry out for relief,” said Congressman Pascrell. “The recent experience of Taylor Swift fans being locked out of her tour is not new and Swifties are just the latest victims of Ticketmaster’s policies and a broken market. For decades, the ticket market has been the Wild West: mammoth, opaque, speculative, and brutally unfair. A fan shouldn’t have to sell a kidney or mortgage a house to see their favorite performer or team. At long last, it is time to create rules for fair ticketing in this country and my legislation will do exactly that for all the fans. I thank my good friend Congressman Pallone for continuing to support this important ticket marketplace reform bill.”

 

“Consumers deserve to enjoy their favorite artists and live entertainment without breaking the bank. It’s past time to update the ticket marketplace to ensure it’s fair, transparent, and working for ticket buyers – not Ticketmaster or resellers,” said Congressman Pallone.  “That’s why I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of Rep. Pascrell’s BOSS and SWIFT Act, which will help protect consumers when they buy tickets from ticket sellers and resellers. I thank Rep. Pascrell for his longstanding leadership on this issue that’s so important to New Jerseyans and all Americans.”

 

“Buying a ticket to see your favorite artist, sports team, or Broadway show should not be an exercise in frustration,” said John Breyault, National Consumers League Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud. “Unfortunately, the average fan is at the mercy of a rigged system that makes it nearly impossible to get access to affordable tickets for popular events. And even when fans are able to find tickets to buy, hidden fees can more than double the cost to attend the event. The BOSS and SWIFT ACT is the common-sense solution fans need to bring sanity to the live event ticketing industry.”

 

“The time is long overdue to bring transparency, fairness and competition back to the live event ticketing marketplace,” said Erin Witte, Director of Consumer Protection at Consumer Federation of America. “The BOSS and SWIFT Act will level the playing field for consumers and ensure that they can enjoy these events without being deceived and overcharged in the purchase process.”

 

“Sports fans across the country have been crying out for reforms,” said Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition. “The BOSS and SWIFT Act is the most holistic proposal we’ve seen introduced and we commend Representative Pascrell for tackling this difficult subject in such a thoughtful and pro-consumer manner. The BOSS and SWIFT Act is the best representation of the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights that we’ve seen, and will ensure strong consumer protections while protecting a competitive marketplace.”

 

“While legislatures across the country grapple with the opaque and ever-changing world that is live event ticketing, we welcome the BOSS and SWIFT Act and some direction from Congress that protects everyone seeking to buy and transfer tickets,” said Chris VanDeHoef, the President of the FanFreedom Project. “The BOSS and SWIFT Act is a giant step towards providing consumer protection to ticket buyers everywhere and we encourage Congress to see this through.”

 

“It’s been said that buying tickets can be similar to enduring a bear attack, a description that is unfortunately too true and that will only change through an act of Congress,” said Brian Berry, advocacy director of Protect Ticket Rights. “Bravo to the BOSS and SWIFT Act for putting consumers’ interests at its core and setting an equitable and appropriate standard of conduct and transparency for all ticket sellers.”

 

“For too long, the ticket purchasing experience for consumers has been opaque at best, resulting in a consumer experience that is characterized by hidden or late-disclosed fees and a final price that is a shock. The BOSS Act seeks to eliminate some of the worst of these abuses by creating greater transparency through disclosures and promoting competition in ticket sales that enables a healthier market for consumers buying tickets.” Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs, Public Knowledge.

“The BOSS and SWIFT Act will crack open the ticket buying market, ensuring that consumers know the total cost of tickets—fees and all—for concerts and sporting events, and what their rights are to a refund,” said Ruth Susswein, Consumer Action’s Director of Consumer Protection.

Congressmen Pascrell and Pallone first offered this legislation back in 2009 when Garden State fans flooded congressional offices with complaints after they tried to buy Springsteen tour tickets and were surreptitiously directed to secondary sites with inflated prices.

 

Pascrell has been a leader in Congress calling for regulation of the opaque live events ticket market. Pascrell was an early critic of the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger, and repeatedly urged the Obama administration to reject it, warning that the union would crush competition and harm consumers. In May 2018, Pascrell wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on his attempts to impose greater positive regulation on the broken live events ticket market.

 

On March 22, 2022, Rep. Pascrell wrote to the heads of the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division urging them to overhaul federal guidelines to make it easier to overturn bad mergers. As part of the agencies’ joint inquiry into modernizing merger regulations, Pascrell flagged the Live Nation-Ticketmaster as a “posterchild of consolidation gone bad” and urged its dissolution.

 

Two months later, Reps. Pascrell and Pallone wrote a letter to the then-Federal Trade Commission highlighting a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study which found a myriad of consumer protection and competition issues in the primary and secondary live event ticket markets.

 

The GAO report was commissioned in response to Pallone and Pascrell’s work, and the members urged Simons to do more to protect consumers in the marketplace. In response, the FTC organized a workshop on event tickets held in June 2019 to review many of the challenges faced by ticket-buying fans. Pascrell attended a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight hearing in early 2020 on the lack of transparency in the ticket marketplace.

 

President Biden has made junk fees in the ticketing industry a key part of his legislative agenda, going so far as to mention the issue in the State of the Union address.

 

To solve many of the problems consumers have faced in the marketplace, the BOSS and SWIFT ACT forces greater transparency and protections to help consumers from unfair and deceptive acts imposed by ticket sellers. Specific requirements for the BOSS and SWIFT ACT include:

 

General Market Place Reforms

Requirements on the primary ticket seller, secondary ticket seller, and secondary ticket sales marketplace include:

  • Mandatory all-in pricing to ensure the true ticket price is clearly displayed and does not change during check out process.
  • Clear disclosures of refund policies and guarantees for consumers to have the choice of a full refund or a replacement ticket in a comparable or upgraded location if a ticket is not delivered.
  • Disclosing to buyers whether a ticket is being offered as a primary sale or secondary sale.

 

Primary Market Place Reforms

  • Transparency on the total number and cost of tickets that will be offered for sale to the general public.
  • Preserving ticketing transferability so consumers are not restricted from reselling their tickets or facing a price ceiling or floor on ticket resales.
  • Ensure fans cannot be sanctioned for reselling a ticket.

 

Secondary Market Place Reforms

  • Clamping down on unauthorized speculative ticket sales.
  • Protecting consumers who receive tickets that do not match the description of those purchased.
  • Disclosing to purchasers when the secondary seller is the primary ticket seller, venue, team, or artist associated with the event.
  • Prohibiting unauthorized insiders from selling tickets at marked up prices
  • Restricting resellers from selling the same seat to more than one person at the same time.

 

A full section-by-section breakdown of the BOSS and SWIFT ACT is available here.

 

Text of the BOSS and SWIFT ACT is here.

 

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