The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a new proposal to prohibit junk fees attached to a number of industries’ products and services—including online concert tickets. Hidden and bogus fees can cost consumers up to tens of billions of dollars a year in unexpected costs, the FTC’s press release states.
In addition to inflating concert ticket prices, junk fees can affect the total costs of booking hotels, paying utility bills, and more. If adopted, the new rule would require businesses to include all mandatory fees when listing a price for consumers. The FTC would also be able to penalize companies that do not comply. In June, Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, announced an “all-in pricing experience” that will eliminate hidden fees.
“All too often, Americans are plagued with unexpected and unnecessary fees they can’t escape,” Lina M. Khan, the chair of the FTC, stated in the press release. “These junk fees now cost Americans tens of billions of dollars per year—money that corporations are extracting from working families just because they can. By hiding the total price, these junk fees make it harder for consumers to shop for the best product or service and punish businesses who are honest upfront. The FTC’s proposed rule to ban junk fees will save people money and time, and make our markets more fair and competitive.”
In an additional statement, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights and has been monitoring Ticketmaster’s monopoly on the ticketing industry, said: “From buying a concert ticket to booking a flight, hidden fees are a constant challenge for consumers trying to make informed decisions on big purchases. We must put an end to these surprise costs so that consumers have the transparency they need and deserve. This announcement from the Administration is an important step towards ensuring that the price you see is the price you pay.”
President Joe Biden has also been a vocal opponent of junk fees, as he noted during his State of the Union address in February. “We can stop service fees on tickets to concerts and sporting events and make companies disclose all the fees upfront,” he said.
The concert ticketing industry has been under increased scrutiny in recent years. In 2022, the Justice Department launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, examining whether or not the company has “abused its power over the multibillion-dollar live music industry.” The investigation was announced following a massive ticketing debacle surrounding Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.
In 2021, the FTC fined three ticket resellers—Just in Time Tickets, Inc., Cartisim Corp., and Concert Specials, Inc.—for violating anti-scalping legislation that was passed in 2016. The three companies and their principals were accused of using online bots to resell tickets. They were hit with a civil penalty judgement and fined $3.7 million.