June 14, 2011

Whitehouse and Reed Request FTC Investigation into Online Ticket Brokers Posing as Rhode Island Venues

Washington, DC – Following recent reports of online ticket brokers in Rhode Island posing as the official sales sites for popular venues and overcharging consumers, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed have asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the practice.  

The senators are seeking to protect consumers from unscrupulous ticket brokers who may be posing as trusted Rhode Island venues and driving up ticket prices while narrowing the choice of tickets available to the public at face value.

In one instance reported last month by the Providence Journal, a ticket broker using the domain name “providencepac.org” was using copyrighted images of the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC – real domain name: ppacri.org) and charging $655 – almost ten times the $70 face value – for a ticket to see “Les Miserables” at PPAC.

“When consumers mistakenly believe they are purchasing tickets from a trusted source, there is serious potential for fraud.  We want the FTC to investigate these practices and take appropriate actions to protect consumers,” said Whitehouse and Reed in a joint statement.

The full text of Whitehouse and Reed’s letter is below:


June 8, 2011

The Honorable Jon Leibowitz
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580
Dear Chairman Leibowitz:
We write to bring to your attention a recent article from the Providence Journal outlining concerns about certain online ticket brokers.  According to the article, which we have attached, these brokers apparently sell tickets on websites whose names mimic those of real venues and that have photographs of the venues, causing some consumers to believe that they are buying tickets first-hand from the venue itself.  As a result, some consumers may have paid excessive ticket prices with the added cost going to unscrupulous online brokers, not to the performance venue or to performers.  
You previously considered the prevalence of abuse in the online ticket resale market during your investigation of Ticketmaster and related entities.  When that investigation ended with a settlement, you said that “[b]uying tickets should not be a game of chance.”  A similar game of chance appears to be playing out now with respect to certain ticket brokers in our home state and likely elsewhere.  Considering that these are tough economic times, particularly in Rhode Island, every dollar that a consumer is able to spend counts and consumers must have a sense of confidence in their purchases.  We therefore request that the Federal Trade Commission investigate these practices and take appropriate actions to protect consumers.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.

_________________                                                  _________________                         

Sheldon Whitehouse                                                   Jack Reed

United States Senator                                                 United States Senator


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