Consumer Protection, Ticket Bots,
and the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act
December 5, 2018
We appreciate the opportunity to submit comments regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Workshop Examining Online Event Ticket Sales. We applaud the FTC’s interest in exploring the potential consumer protection issues associated with the online event-ticket marketplace. As was noted in the workshop announcements, “The online event ticket industry has been a frequent topic of consumer and competitor complaints.”
Our comments address the issue of using ticket purchasing software (commonly referred to as “ticket bots”) and the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS Act). In particular, we discuss many of the misconceptions around ticket bots, and more specifically their use in buying (and eventual reselling) of tickets on a secondary market. The use of bots to purchase and resell tickets is an integral part of ensuring a healthy market that is responsive to consumers and performers. This comment not only addresses the perceived problems with ticket bots but also outline potential alternative solutions to the complaints being made about online ticket resales.
We begin with some background on the use of bot technology. We then outline the consumer protection and competitive considerations that ought to be made when considering bot technology. We then discuss why the federal response in the BOTS Act is unnecessary. Finally, we provide a roadmap for alternative solutions to anticompetitive or unwanted practices in ticket sales.