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Prieto & Johnson Bill to Protect Consumers Against Unfair Ticket Selling Practices Released by Assembly Panel
(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assembly Budget Chairman Vincent Prieto and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson to protect consumers by restructuring New Jersey's ticket sale law was released Monday from the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee.
The bill (A-2258) restructures the law regarding ticket sales and resales in New Jersey, introduces transparency into the ticket issuing and selling industry, establishes consumer protections for purchasers of resold tickets and reaffirms the right of ticket purchasers to resell their tickets without technological restrictions.
"We've seen too many consumers simply hoping to see their favorite band, comedian or a great show suffer at the hands of unfair box office practices designed to ensure the most profit for ticket retailers," said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). "New Jersey is home to many great showplace facilities that create jobs and economic development for their communities. We should make it as fair and cost-effective as possible for residents to buy tickets and be able to attend and enjoy these facilities."
The measure stems from incidents of consumer frustration toward ticket sales, including ticketing problems surrounding Bruce Springsteen concerts.
"Anyone who has seen a show sell out minutes after the tickets went on sale only to find tickets available a week later at double the price knows the frustration this bill aims to fix," said Johnson (Dbergen) "Obtaining legitimate tickets to an event should not be impossible for anyone without means to game the system."
This bill introduces transparency into the ticket selling process by requiring ticket issuers to provide advance public notice of their ticket policies, including:
· The total number of tickets to be issued;
· The number of tickets to be offered to the general public and the number of holdback tickets;
· The number of public tickets for each class, tier or level of admission;
· Any service charge, premium or other fee applicable to the sale of tickets; and
· The time at which ticket sales for an event will commence.
"All advertisements for the initial sale of tickets, and the tickets themselves, would have to be marked with the initial price of the tickets, including itemized listings of any taxes, service charges and fees," Prieto said. "The advance public notice would be required to be published at least 15 days before the initial sale of tickets at any place the tickets are sold and on any website where tickets are sold by a ticket issuer or an owner or operator of a place of entertainment."
The bill also:
· Prohibits ticket issuers from issuing "paperless tickets" in an electronic form that is not readily transferable to a subsequent purchaser or that conditions entry into an event on the presenting of documentation, such as the original purchaser's credit card, that cannot be readily transferred to a subsequent purchaser.
· Protects a ticket purchaser's right to resell a ticket by prohibiting a ticket issuer from imposing any terms or taking any legal action or imposing any penalty that would restrict the sale of a ticket
· Prohibits owners or operators of a place of entertainment or of an entertainment event, or their agents, from making initial ticket sales to themselves or their affiliates.
· They would also be barred from advertising, selling or offering to sell tickets not previously sold through an initial sale.
· An "insider," as defined in the bill, would also be prohibited from selling tickets to an event prior to their release for initial sale to the public.
The bill prohibits giving or receiving anything of value, other than the price printed on the ticket, in exchange for special treatment with respect to obtaining tickets and the use of any means designed to circumvent or disable controls or systems intended to limit the number of tickets purchased by one buyer or to ensure the equitable distribution of tickets.
The bill specifies that a violation would be both an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act and a crime of the fourth degree.
An unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, an unlawful practice violation can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured.
A crime in the fourth degree is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of $10,000 or both.
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