Biden Calls for Bill Cutting Ticket Fees, Requiring Holdback Disclosure

As part of a broad push against fees in various industries, President Joe Biden urged Congress Wednesday to take up the Junk Fee Protection Act, which takes aim at “excessive” fees added on to event tickets sold online.

The Junk Fee Protection Act will “lower the huge service fees that companies like Ticketmaster slap on tickets for concerts or sporting events that can easily add hundreds of bucks to a family’s night out,” Biden said during a meeting of his Competition Council.

“Congress should pass the Junk Fee Protection Act,” Biden continued, “so we can crack down on these fees and give hard-working Americans just a little bit more breathing room.”

Specifics weren’t available, as details like the definition of “excessive” will have to be hammered out in the legislative process, along with the enforcement process. Biden also pushed for full disclosure of fees on the front-end of ticket sales, so-called “all-in pricing.”

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President Joe Biden presides over a meeting of the White House Competition Council, including Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra (L), Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and others. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The president said he’d also ask lawmakers to include requirements that venues and ticket companies disclose the number of holdback tickets. Gary Adler, executive director and counsel of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, applauded that part of the proposal. Specifically, saying holdbacks and the subsequent release thereof is a “deceptive marketing practice.”

“President Biden highlighted the need for more transparency as to how many tickets are made available to the public,” Adler said in a statement. Through a scheme called slow ticketing, Live Nation/Ticketmaster commonly holds back large numbers of tickets before they go on sale to the public without any disclosures, and slowly releases more tickets over time to manufacture artificial scarcity and maintain demand for higher-priced tickets. It’s a deceptive marketing practice that should end. Ticket buyers deserve to know when and how many tickets will go on sale so that they can make more informed purchase decisions.”

Ticketmaster, which the president mentioned by name, said it “strongly supports ticketing reforms that will benefit artists and fans, prevent fraud, and clean up fraudulent practices in resale markets. These basic steps should be the things everyone agrees on, including mandating all-in pricing and outlawing speculative ticketing. We stand ready to work with the President and Congress on many common sense ticketing reforms, while also speaking out against proposed legislation that would benefit scalpers over artists and fans.”