TicketNetwork CEO Don Vaccaro Promotes Greater Transparency in Ticketing Industry Before House Committee

South Windsor, Connecticut - Feb. 27, 2020 - TicketNetwork’s Don Vaccaro participated in a hearing Wednesday examining ticketing practices in the live entertainment industry. The hearing, “In the Dark: Lack of Transparency in the Live Event Ticketing Industry,” was held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. It sought testimony from leaders of six companies representing both primary and secondary ticketing, including Mr. Vaccaro, co-founder and CEO of TicketNetwork.

“It was a privilege to join other industry leaders to share our insight with legislators on the ticketing industry,” Mr. Vaccaro said. “There are several common-sense measures that can vastly improve the consumer experience in ticketing. Transferability, transparency, disclosure and consumer freedom are the keys, rather than the ever-increasing concentration of market power in the hands of a tiny minority of venue and promoter interests.”

Testimony covered a wide area of concerns in ticketing, from high and hidden fees that dominated submitted complaints leading up to 2019’s FTC hearing on ticketing to the security concerns related to forcing consumers to use proprietary mobile ticketing platforms regardless of where they have purchased tickets. Such systems grant these companies access to large quantities of consumer data, which is of enormous concern relative to consumer privacy and security. The egregious use by some primary ticketing companies of such systems to restrict the ability for consumers to sell or transfer tickets they have purchased was also discussed at length with members of the committee.

TicketNetwork looks forward to continuing to work with legislators to ensure a fair, transparent and robust ticket marketplace for businesses and consumers alike.

The full hearing can be viewed on YouTube. Mr. Vaccaro’s full introductory testimony is available below. Unabridged testimony and supporting documentation submitted to the subcommittee is available here (PDF file opens in new window).

Testimony of Don Vaccaro, Co-Founder and CEO of TicketNetwork | Wednesday, February 26, 2020

House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations “In the Dark: Lack of Transparency in the Live Event Ticketing Industry”

Good afternoon, Chairwoman DeGette, Ranking Member Guthrie, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Don Vaccaro. I am the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of TicketNetwork.

I thank you for inviting me today to share information about our company and the ticketing industry today. Consumers deserve fair and equitable access to live events but face increasing difficulty in finding it every year.

Since its founding in 2002, TicketNetwork has been a pioneer in the on-line live event ticket resale industry. We strive to provide outstanding customer service while facilitating the free market exchange of tickets to events. Our software creates a secure space for transactions between buyers and sellers for events across the world.

TicketNetwork has always advocated for the rights of consumers to use tickets as they wish. Whether you want to attend an event, give tickets to a friend, or sell them to a willing buyer at an agreed-upon price, the important thing is that they are YOURS. You should be able to do what you’d like without being subject to the whims and restrictions of a venue, event organizer, league, or ticketing company.

Unfortunately, there are many in the event world who do not agree. Technology is continually being developed and deployed to put more burdensome restrictions on tickets. Companies developing this technology claim it exists to protect consumers. In reality, it is merely put in place to eliminate competition and consumer choice.

In response to the committee’s questions, we have outlined a number of issues that exist in the current ticketing world, and proposed remedies to them. They can be summarized in three key needs: Transparency, disclosure, and freedom.

When tickets go on sale, there is almost nothing about the process that is clear for consumers. For starters, the supposed “on sale” date for the general public is far from the first day tickets are available. Presales for venue “insiders”, fan club members, holders of a particular credit card, streaming service subscribers, and other groups are spread throughout the ticketing process for almost every event.

Often, huge portions of unpurchased tickets are hidden, creating the illusion of scarcity during both presales and general sales. This is designed to trigger consumer fears of missing out, when in reality there are thousands of additional tickets waiting to be posted for the next buyer who comes along.

These practices serve one core purpose – to deceive consumers about ticket availability and keep prices high. Whether these held-back tickets are slowly dripped onto the regular market down the road or sold directly through secondary marketplaces, the lack of transparency in the sale process is the biggest factor contributing to price inflation in ticketing.

Clear disclosure of ticket prices and fees is also hard to come by, both on the primary or secondary market.

Primary sellers will often employ “dynamic” prices that move up during periods of high demand, often in tandem with false scarcity of inventory. This means that very few consumers have any hope of securing tickets at published “face value” prices. Even when they do, those prices are subject to enormous undisclosed fees that draw the overwhelming majority of consumer complaints, as evidenced by submissions to the FTC in advance of their hearing on ticketing in 2019.

On some secondary websites, rights-holders impose price floors for events, meaning the marketplace cannot allow tickets to be sold below a specified value, even if the seller wants to. These serve no purpose other than artificially inflating prices. Such floors can also harm consumers who bought tickets and can no longer attend – as the floor keeps them from pricing their ticket to what the market will pay.

TicketNetwork does not allow price floors on our marketplace and is leading the way in developing retail websites that don’t trick consumers using high and hidden fees. Almost every retail website we control offers consumers the option to view prices including estimated fees. And we have piloted websites using an “all-in” pricing model, where the initial price displayed is the actual price, rather than a price the consumer could never pay for the tickets advertised. We believe this to be a model for the industry to follow and will continue to operate it despite the competitive disadvantage it places the website under compared to websites that hide behind these high fee structures.

Perhaps the most egregious consumer abuse in ticketing, however, is the use of proprietary systems that restrict the ability for consumers to transfer or resell their tickets should they wish to. These systems enable primary ticket companies to exercise complete control over tickets, while simultaneously harvesting enormous amounts of consumer data to sell to partners and suppressing the ability of some classes of consumers from participating in the ticketing process at all.

Ticket companies sell such systems as being more secure and consumer friendly, but in practice, they are merely tools for eliminating competition and consumer choice.

In summation, there are several common-sense measures that can vastly improve the consumer experience in ticketing. Transparency, disclosure and consumer freedom are the keys, rather than the ever-increasing concentration of market power in the hands of a tiny minority of venue and promoter interests. Thankfully, there is a proposed solution already out there – the BOSS Act, reintroduced by Chairman Pallone. This proposed legislation is not perfect, including a concerning section on the use of venue and performer names in event website URLs that serves no purpose other than negatively impacting search results for websites that aren’t venue controlled. But on balance, it protects competition in the ticketing marketplace, and takes vital steps to a more consumer-friendly live event ticketing experience. And that’s something we should all be striving towards. I welcome your questions and hope that TicketNetwork can play a productive role in the improvement of the ticketing marketplace for businesses and consumers alike.

Thank You.

About TicketNetwork
TicketNetwork® is a leading software provider in the secondary ticket marketplace, powering an extensive network of retail websites offering tickets to sought-after concert, sporting, and theater events worldwide. Based in South Windsor, Connecticut, TicketNetwork was founded in 2002.


Sean Burns
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