Tennessee Bill Takes Aim At Online Ticket Scalpers

(Memphis) Sue Sarriken enjoys theater and says the best way to experience it, is live, “I’m a big theater fan, I love to go to theater,  live theater, and it seemed like a fun thing for me and my sister to do.”

The two went to The Orpheum a couple of years ago to see the Phantom of the Opera.

They had great seats and had a great time, so this year Sue thought tickets to see Mary Poppins at the Orpheum would make the perfect Christmas present for her sister.

She has bought tickets to shows before, “With a Broadway production that you can pay over a 100 dollars,150 dollars at a good theater”

When Sue finally got her tickets from an online broker she knew something was wrong.

Teresa Ward, Vice President of Ticketing for the Orpheum in Memphis, told the WREG TV investigators, this happens far too often, “The Grizzlies have this problem, Memphis in may, everyone has these issues.”

Ward handles the Orpheum’s ticketing complaints and says usually in cases like Sue’s, the consumer is taken advantage of on the secondary market.

Modern day scalpers make official looking websites and use online market places such as StubHub and Craigslist, to make a fortune at the fan’s expense.

According to Sue, “Pretty much one of the last rows in the orchestra for $457 and some odd cents.”

Ward told WREG TV, “She Should have paid $130 for two tickets”

The problem is so common the Orpheum along with artists, sports teams, and venues from across Tennessee formed the “Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition.”

They hope by teaming up, they can fight the scalpers.

Ward says, “We want to do everything we can to make their experience perfect and it’s difficult to do that when you have these outside unscrupulous people just doing whatever they can to make a buck.”

Representative Ryan Haynes from Knoxville is sponsoring the “Fairness in Ticketing Act.”

In reference to what happened to Sue, Rep. Haynes said, “This bill is an attempt to address that.”

The bill requires ticket brokers to register with the state and list specific details about the tickets being sold.

Brokers would have to disclose the original cost of the ticket as well as seat location for any event happening in Tennessee.

Rep. Haynes calls it, “A starting point.”

Jon Potter, President of the “Fan Freedom Project”, isn’t sold on the bill, “Absolutely, we agree with the, several of the proposed provisions in the fairness in ticketing act, but we are also saying primary sellers should have to do it.”

Fan Freedom Project opposes the bill because Potter says, “There are problems on the original ticket sales, when 70, 60, 90 percent of tickets are pre-sold. Fans should know.”

Haynes Stands by his bill and responded to that by saying, “It’s their product.  (The artist, venue, team) They ought to be able to sell it in the manner they want to sell it.”

As the battle to fix the ticket scalping continues in Nashville, here in Memphis, Sue Sarriken and her sister made it to show.

Sue bought new tickets direct from the Orpheum.

She wants others to benefit from her experience saying,“You live and you learn, I just hope I can help somebody else learn.”

A few tips to help you protect your self:

Go directly to the venue’s website

If you have to use a search engine, look for the “Official” site

Only the venue and artist real sites are allowed to call themselves the “official page”

You can always call the venue and double check what the price of the ticket should be

If you would like to look into the issue more, here are some helpful links:

Track the Fairness in Ticketing act as it works its way thru the House of Representatives and Senate:

http://wapp.capitol.tn.gov/apps/BillInfo/Default.aspx?BillNumber=HB1000

Find out more about why to support the Fairness in Ticketing Act:

http://www.fansfirstcoalition.org/

Find out more about why people oppose the Fairness in Ticketing Act:

http://www.fanfreedom.org/

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