Senators Press FTC Over Actions Against Ticketing Bots Online

Congress FTC ticketing bots
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Congress FTC ticketing bots
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Photo Credit: Rachel Coyne

Two Senators have written to the FTC to inquire about what is being done about ticketing bots and insane reseller prices online for popular concerts.

Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) highlight several instances of outrageous ticketing prices for popular events in their letters. “We write to ask for information about steps the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking to combat the use and operation of bots in the online ticket marketplace,” the letter begins.

“As you know, the Better Online Ticket Sales–or BOTS Act–became law in 2016. This law prohibits the circumvention of a security measure, access control system, or other technological control measure used online by a ticket issuer. It also prohibits the selling or offering of an event ticket obtained through a circumvention violation if the seller participated in, had the ability to control, or should have known about the violation.”

“The BOTS Act gives the FTC and state attorneys general the authority to enforce violations as unfair and deceptive practices,” the letter to the FTC about ticketing bots continues.

“Recently, several high-profile incidents arose where consumers encountered serious difficulties purchasing tickets through online ticket vendors–including Ticketmaster and AXS. While bots may not be the only reason for these problems, which Congress is evaluating, fighting bots is an important step in reducing consumer costs in the online ticketing industry,” the letter continues.

It cites several examples of news coverage of the price of tickets on reseller markets. Another is consumers reporting tickets to see Bob Dylan were removed from their shopping carts. “Similarly, 22,000 fans pre-registered to buy tickets for Blake Shelton, but only a few hundred of that number actually got tickets,” the letter continues.

It asks the FTC to identify what measures it is taking under the BOTS Act to prevent ticketing bots from consuming the online ticket-buying experience.

“The BOTS Act gave the FTC and state attorneys general the tools they need to crack down on parasitic online ticket bots,” adds Senator Blumenthal. “Now they need to use them. Without adequate enforcement of this anti-consumer software, regular fans are still being unfairly priced out of seeing their favorite singer or hometown sports team. We’d like to know what steps the FTC plans to take to ensure that consumers have fair access to the events they want to see.”