EDMONTON — Alberta plans to bring in rules to ban ticket-gobbling software bots that shut out individual consumers when they try to buy concert or event tickets online.
Proposed legislation introduced Wednesday would also give the province power to take action if buyers didn't get the tickets they purchased on a resale site.
"There is a widespread feeling among Albertans that the ticketing game is rigged against them," said Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean.
"It's unfair when they try to buy a concert ticket to only see that it's sold out in seconds and shows up on resellers' websites for inflated prices.
"Fans deserve a fair shot at tickets to see their favourite artists."
Ticket-sellers doing business in the province would have to weed out large-scale block-bot purchases and cancel those tickets.
If they didn't, the province could act on complaints, investigate and levy fines up to $300,000 or seek up to two years in jail.
There is a widespread feeling among Albertans that the ticketing game is rigged against them.Stephanie McLean
The proposed legislation also makes it clear that ticket-buyers could sue ticket-sellers for compensation on the grounds that tickets were sold to bots.
McLean suggested ticket-sellers also want to stop the bots and are looking for more legislative tools to do it.
"It's hard to combat these bots. It takes a lot of resources," she said.
"We're simply going to start off by holding them accountable for policing their industry."
Secondary ticket-sellers doing business in Alberta, such as StubHub, would have to refund the full price if a ticket sold was counterfeit or was cancelled because it was purchased by a bot.
If not, the province could investigate and level fines.
The bill also proposes broad changes to consumer protections, along with actions in areas from auto sales to veterinary fees.
Businesses would no longer be able to demand provisions preventing dissatisfied customers from filing lawsuits and they couldn't try to stop customers from filing negative reviews online.
We're simply going to start off by holding them accountable for policing their industry.Stephanie McLean
Car dealerships and repair shops would have to be more upfront about a vehicle's history and repair estimates.
High-interest lenders, such as pawn shops and rent-to-own furniture sellers, would have licence requirements and would have to spell out in plain language to customers how much transactions would cost.
Veterinarians would have to disclose all fees so pet owners were aware of the costs before giving the OK for their animals to get treatment.
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