NEWS

Ticket resellers face strict new rules in Quebec

06/07/2012 09:53 EDT | Updated 08/07/2012 05:12 EDT

So-called ticket brokerage companies that resell admission tickets to sporting events and concerts now have tight new limits on how they can operate in Quebec.

Amendments to the province's consumer-protection legislation that came into force Thursday make it harder for ticket brokers to resell tickets above face value, and threaten them with stiff penalties if they break the rules.

"Consumers will be able to buy tickets at the price set by the original vendor and thereby avoid a financial hit. They will be more inclined to support our cultural industries," Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier said in a statement.

Bill 25, passed into law in October, requires any business seeking to resell event tickets above their face value to:

- Get permission from the original vendor, be it a show promoter, venue or sports team.

- Make it clear to potential buyers that the tickets are being resold.

- Tell those buyers the name of the original vendor.

- Inform buyers of the tickets' face value.

Fines range from $2,000 to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $200,000 if violators break the law again.

The bill is aimed at local online brokers like billets.ca and QualityPlusTickets.com, Quebec-run sites that resell tickets and draw a commission from the buyer and seller.

According to Fournier's statement, "More and more companies were buying large quantities of tickets without prior approval from vendors and reselling the tickets at higher prices, often without informing consumers that that it was a resale."

The Montreal Canadiens, several venues and promoters, and a union representing Quebec musicians backed the legislation, arguing that brokerage websites create a scarcity of tickets by scooping them up in bulk and artificially driving up prices.

Outdoor scalpers are not affected by the statutory amendments.

Prices must be all-in

Another measure of the new law requires all ticket sellers and resellers from now on to advertise their prices as all-in, inclusive of any service fees or administrative charges. The only charges that can be left out of the advertised price are the GST and Quebec sales tax.

The ticket-resale provisions were opposed by the Canadian Ticket Brokers Association. Montreal lawyer Julius Grey, hired to help fight the new law, said it won't solve any problems because the reselling business can just move outside Quebec, where the legislation will be impossible to enforce.

"There is simply no history of a large percentage of the tickets being in the hands of resellers. It's a small percentage of tickets that has no effect on the price and makes the availability more even," Grey said last fall while Bill 25 was still before the provincial assembly.

Several provinces already have laws against reselling tickets but at least one of them, Alberta, has rescinded its legislation because it was too difficult to enforce.

In Ontario, the Ticket Speculation Act was amended in 2010 to stop U.S. entertainment giant Ticketmaster from selling tickets to an event, then reselling those same tickets through another website. It introduced fines of up to $5,000 for both sellers and purchasers of tickets on the secondary market.

Manitoba's Amusements Act says it's illegal to sell tickets for more than face value. Saskatchewan's law also prevents resellers from getting access to tickets before the general public does.

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