B.C. government promises crackdown on ticket bots and ‘price-gouging’ scalpers

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, alongside MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, announces consultation on ticket scalping. Richard Zussman/Global News

Do you feel you have ever been ripped off getting a ticket for a concert or a sporting event?

Well the B.C. government wants to hear from you. The province has kicked off a public consultation campaign to “clamp down on high-priced ticket scalping” and controversial ticket bots.

“Potential legislation will deal with the issue of inability of British Columbians to access tickets and what they see as the unfair way in which scalpers get the tickets, bots get the tickets. It seems that anybody other than a regular British Columbian gets the tickets,” Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said.

LISTEN: B.C. government to crack down on ticket scalping
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The three-week survey will ask British Columbians about their experiences with ticket buying, reselling and buying from resellers. The recommendations are expected to be made public in June, with new legislation set for B.C. in the fall.

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Other jurisdictions, including Quebec, have tried to crack down on ticket bots without much success. The bots are often based outside of North America and are hard to track and punish. The rapid ticket-buying software often will scoop up available tickets and then resellers will offer them back to the public at a hefty price.

The Alberta government has introduced rules to force ticket vendors such as Ticketmaster to actively identify tickets purchased using bots and cancel them, and to let consumers and vendors sue offending bot users.

Secondary ticket-sellers doing business in Alberta, such as StubHub, would have to refund the full price if a ticket sold was counterfeit or was cancelled because it was purchased by a bot.

If not, the province could investigate and level fines.

“The legislation elsewhere is pretty variable, so who we want to hear from is the industry here in British Columbia and the people here in British Columbia,” Farnworth said. “We want to learn from the failures, as well as the successes of other jurisdictions.”

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Vancouver-West End NDP MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert has been lobbying for changes to the industry for years and applauds this first step.

“British Columbians are frustrated by ticket price-gouging, and want action,” he said. “Working with the people of B.C., our government is acting and will develop and bring forward new consumer protections to help make the ticket-buying experience fairer and more affordable.”

The survey is open to British Columbians and can be found here.

There has been public outrage in Vancouver over tickets being sold out in seconds to major concerts like U2, the Eagles and most recently Pink.

But not all events are created equal. Below is a look at four Rogers Arena events, some have re-selling prices three or four times higher than the list price and the Canucks tickets are lower. Buying tickets online is not an exact science, but it is clear someone is making a lot of money off reselling tickets.

Vancouver Canucks vs. Minnesota Wild, Rogers Arena, March 9, Section 310

Seat Geek: $41.21

Showtime Tickets: $35.00

Face Value: $67.75

Rod Stewart, Rogers Arena, April 10, floor seat around row 34:

Seat Geek: $168.70

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Showtime Tickets: $585.00

Face Value: $149 plus service fees and taxes

Shania Twain, Rogers Arena, May 5, floor seat around row 32:

Seat Geek: $333.53

Showtime Tickets: $325.00

Face Value: $189.95 for most expensive ticket

Pink, Rogers Arena, May 12, Section 111, around row 19:

Seat Geek: $634.96

Showtime Tickets: $485.00

Face Value: $260.10 plus fees for most expensive ticket

— With files from The Canadian Press

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