The Government has been told by online ticket exchange company StubHub that its proposed regulations to prohibit ticket touting are “outdated and irrelevant” due to impending changes in pricing in the sector.
StubHub, which is owned by Ebay, also told officials from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation that plans to ban above-cost selling would be punitive for customers who were already paying more than face value when service charges and credit card fees are considered.
An email, released to the Irish Examiner under freedom of information, instead advised the department that if it was going to progress with the regulations, it should only cap “business sellers” and that the cap should be 120% of the original sale price.
The Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill 2017 will prevent the sale of tickets for major sporting, musical and theatrical events for more than face value. It was approved by the Dáil in January and is now making its way through the house.
In the email, Alasdair McGowan, Ebay’s director of government relations for the UK and Ireland, told officials that dynamic pricing, where prices fluctuate based on demand, will become the industry norm in the coming years. He said when this happens, the concept of face value “will become increasingly outdated and irrelevant”.
“With this industry evolution, establishing regulatory models around an antiquated concept like ‘face value’ will provide little benefit to consumers,” he said.
Mr McGowan said that Ebay “understands” the objective of preventing individuals from profiting from reselling tickets.
However, he said capping resale prices at face value would be punitive for customers who already incur additional charges, such as credit card fees, shipping fees and ticket insurance, when buying tickets.
“These fees can easily reach an additional 25% on top of face value and may often exceed that percentage,” he said.
The company recommended that any price cap, if introduced, includes an extra 20% above face value to cover additional charges.
It recommended adopting a clause similar to one that is in place in the UK where individuals selling more than 100 tickets in a year or more than six for a single event are deemed “business sellers” and that only these people should be subject to caps.
RDS chief executive Michael Duffy in an email criticised the practice of above-cost selling, saying doing so damaged the reputation of legitimate events and sellers. The RDS, a registered charity, organises the Dublin Horse Show.
In 2018, many customers bought tickets above their original value from resale websites despite these tickets being available at face value directly from the Horse Show’s website, according to Mr Duffy.
Subsequently, the RDS was contacted by a number of customers who were frustrated at having bought tickets above face value.
He said this would have resulted “in a loss of revenue for the Dublin Horse Show, as well as damage to our relationship with our customers and the reputation of the RDS, all of which, in the long-term, could have financial implications for the Show”.