New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. has launched an attack on Ticketmaster over a controversial pricing scheme for Bruce Springsteen tickets, demanding answers to three questions by the end of the month.
Pascrell says he’s been inundated with complaints from constituents who faced the prospect of paying more than $4,500 to attend upcoming shows, with some under the impression that no cheaper options would be available. Both Ticketmaster and Springsteen’s manager have since defended the strategy, known as “dynamic pricing.”
The congressman is also supporting legislation to reform the ticketing market, adding that he’s acting on behalf of music fans who “should have the ability to enjoy live entertainment without … practices that rip off consumers.”
In a letter to Ticketmaster CEO Michael Rapino, Pascrell says “your company claims that this system allows artists and event organizers to fairly determine the ‘true market value’ of tickets,” but in reality the Official Platinum Seats program “has resulted in fans paying exorbitant prices. Additionally, the fine print of your program allows additional amounts or fees to ‘be added on top of the already elevated prices.’”
When preparing to buy online, fans could “see tickets disappear from the primary marketplace website as if purchased, only to reappear at higher prices,” Pascrell continued. “Fans logging in for a general ticket sale are only able to purchase tickets that were bought during the morning pre-sale and then listed at higher prices on your secondary marketplace, which uses the same platform and is virtually indistinguishable from your primary marketplace.”
He argued that marketplace reforms were “desperately needed,” and that Ticketmaster as a market leader could institute such reforms “at any time.” If they did, these changes would “likely become the industry standard overnight.” Instead, Pascrell accused Ticketmaster of choosing “not to act responsibly, instead prolonging the frustration and confusion of consumers.”
Pascrell then concluded with several questions. “For Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s 2023 tour: a.) How many shows will be played in venues owned, operated, or exclusively booked by Ticketmaster? b.) For how many of these shows is Ticketmaster the primary ticket seller or the exclusive ticket seller?” he wrote.
“Please provide specific data and any details that support [your] statement that these prices and formats are ‘consistent with industry standards for top performers,’” Pascrell said. “Does your company inform customers as to how many tickets will be available for sale, at what time, and how they will be priced so they can make informed purchasing [decisions]?”
Pascrell attracted many responses, including a Bruce Springsteen fan from the U.K. who listed the price of tickets purchased between 1981 and 2016. He said his 11th ticket cost more than all 10 shows he previously attended. Others reported that they experienced similar premium pricing strategies when trying to buy tickets for other artists’ shows.
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