Jun 16, 2019

Why the ticketing industry is politely begging the FTC for regulation

illustration of someone holding film

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

In the U.S. restaurant industry, tips have won. Everybody would benefit if they went away, but there's a collective action problem. So long as most restaurants collect tips, those restaurants' prices seem lower, and service-included rivals find it impossible to compete.

Ticket pricing, it turns out, works the same way. Everybody hates the "service" and "fulfillment" and other fees that get tacked on to ticket prices, but no one can afford to be the first mover.

"This is a textbook place where a regulator could make a big difference,” MIT’s Sara Fisher Ellison chimed in, suggesting the FTC just mandate that all ticket sellers use the same up-front all-in pricing so that no one company would be taking the risk of seeming more expensive than the others in Google search results. Essentially every person on the panel agreed, appearing to politely beg the FTC to regulate them.
— "How ticket fees got so bad, and why they won't get any better," by Kaitlyn Tiffany, Vox

If it wanted to, the FTC could solve this collective action problem. But it doesn't seem so inclined — even as the industry itself is begging it to do so.

Go deeper: Yes, some companies actually want to be regulated

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