EconomyFinancialTicketmaster: why can't users do anything about ticket hoarding?

Ticketmaster: why can't users do anything about ticket hoarding?

Entering the Ticketmaster platform, staying in the virtual queue without the waiting time expiring and buying one of the tickets for some events, such as a concert, a music festival such as the Corona Capital or an NFL game, has been become the exception to the rule.

And this fact generates annoyance among buyers, who have expressed their dissatisfaction on social networks by running out of tickets for events, and above all, when these are finished in presales , which are only accessed by Citibanamex and HSBC cardholders. And, at least in Mexico, the excitement rose to a higher level, after an influencer offered more than 100 tickets for the Corona Capital festival on social networks at a premium.

Although the practices of the ticket office were already in the sights of consumers before, now they accuse the company of having a monopoly. Maximilian Murck, CEO of Tec-Check, considers that there are elements of a market, at least highly concentrated, that put consumers at a disadvantage.

“Ticketmaster today operates to your liking in Mexico. It is necessary to improve competition, strengthen the rights of the consumer population and request accountability from the authorities”, declares the director of the organization that promoted a collective complaint against the ticket office at the end of 2021.

But the company’s sales dynamics remain embedded in a gray area that makes it difficult for consumers to go beyond an acid tweet.

Iván Szymanski, competition expert at Santamarina y Steta, explains that it is not easy for consumers to file a complaint against the company for monopolistic practices, because for this there should be a third party involved in the operations. In the case of Ticketmaster this does not happen since they sell tickets directly to consumers.

“Relative monopolistic practices are those that occur between a company and a supplier, a distributor or a manufacturer, that is, they are aligned in a value chain,” explains the expert. “It would be difficult to verify that the company imposes conditions, because (the presale) is a promotion, and the company sells the ticket to the customer,” he explains.

For Maximilian Murck, pre-sales with private credit cards violate the rights of consumers by not allowing them to freely choose between products and services. “This is a discriminatory practice,” he says.

Tec-Check promoted a collective action that passed into the hands of the Federal Consumer Protection Office (Profeco), however, only those people who have purchased a ticket for a canceled event and who seek a refund can join it. The Profeco has no interference to mediate with those who have not bought a ticket on the Ticketmaster platforms. Until now there is no conciliation between the company and the buyers.

Cie (Inter-American Entertainment Corporation), which integrates OCESA and Ticketmaster, reported revenues in the first half of 744 million pesos, 56% below the 1,689 million in the same period of the previous year. Adjusted EBITDA closed at 111 million pesos, after being in negative territory.

The company has among its events some of the massive ones of great relevance for Mexico City, such as the F1 Mexican Grand Prix or Vive Latino.

In Cofece’s sights?

This is not the first time that Ticketmaster has been in the public eye due to its ticketing practices. In December 2015, Cofece initiated an investigation into possible relative monopolistic practices in the market for the production and promotion of live shows, operation of centers for live shows and automated ticket sales.

“We know that the entertainment industry in Mexico has grown in recent years and is very dynamic, but we observe the existence of few economic agents in the different links. We know of the existence of economic agents that have attempted to provide services in these industries and we have seen that there have been problems with access, so we consider it appropriate to start the analysis of the conditions of competition in this market, and of the existence or not of these exclusivities or refusals of treatment”, said Carlos Mena, to Expansión in May 2016, as head of the Cofece Research Area.

In this investigation, those involved were CIE, OCESA, Ticketmaster, Sale of Tickets by Computer (VBC), ETK Tickets (ETK), Operadora de Centros de Espectaculos (Operadora) and Inmobiliaria de Centros de Espectaculos (ICESA). Cofece found evidence of conduct by one or more economic agents belonging to the CIE Group, which may have improperly displaced, prevented access to other participants or established exclusive advantages in favor of the Group companies that provide ticketing services.

However, the authority shelved the investigation in 2018, after Ticketmaster presented legal and economic commitments to restore its practices, among them, eliminating the exclusivity clauses that they maintain in their contracts with promoters and operators outside the CIE Group, among others. others.

What happens with the resale?

Sold-out tickets are a constant at Ticketmaster events, which has led to a large reselling of tickets at higher prices. And although it is a common practice, it is in a legal loophole that prevents taking action on the matter, although it ends up damaging consumers.

In the Economic Competition Law, it is prohibited for companies to establish conditions for the sale to third parties, who have already acquired the product or service, which limits Ticketmaster from taking action in the matter of ticket resale. Meanwhile, since it is not considered a felony, this activity is punishable by arrest for between 25 and 36 hours and a fine equivalent to 30 days of minimum wage.

“If the company were to establish measures to curb resale, it would be failing in a relative practice, so consumers can do what they want with the tickets,” says the Santamarina & Steta specialist.

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