Washington Fines Ticket Bot Companies $60,000

posted by Brad Ford - 

Bob Ferguson

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says that two Massachusetts-based ticket-buying companies will pay Washington state $60,000 for using “ticket bot” software, a violation of Washington’s Ticket Sellers Act — a law Ferguson wrote and championed through the state Legislature in 2015.

Find My Seats LLC and Box Office Pros LLC, both owned by Taylor Kurth, used ticket bots to complete hundreds of transactions in Washington, according to the complaint. These transactions included tickets to events at major venues in King County, such as the Paramount Theater, CenturyLink Field, Safeco Field and Key Arena. Among the affected events were Beyoncé’s Formation World Tour, Justin Bieber’s Purpose World Tour, an Adele concert and Mariners games.

After using bots to purchase a large number of tickets, Kurth resold tickets for $30 to $200 more per ticket than the original sale price.

“When bots scoop up the good seats in a matter of minutes, they force actual customers to buy their tickets at inflated prices,” Ferguson said. “That’s not fair to consumers or the venues hosting them.”

Ticket bots are computer programs used to quickly buy large quantities of tickets online to popular concerts and sporting events. The software helps scalpers skirt website security measures meant to limit the number of tickets one person can purchase. Bots target the most desirable seats, allowing scalpers to resell them minutes later at inflated prices.

In 2015, Ferguson proposed legislation prohibiting the use and sale of ticket bots in Washington state. The Legislature passed the bill, and this case marks the first enforcement action of the law, known as the Ticket Sellers Act.

Former Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, who now serves on the King County Council, and then-Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, who now represents the 24th district in the Senate, sponsored the legislation.

“It is unfair that people who work hard all day and save their money to attend a show or concert they are excited about or root for their favorite team at the stadium can’t attend the event because some large ticket reseller has purchased all the tickets and then raised the cost to an outrageous price,” Kohl-Welles said at the time.

“Companies shouldn’t be allowed to operate in the shadows, using computer software to artificially inflate the prices of popular concerts and sporting events,” Van De Wege said at the time. “This is a question about fairness. When these questionable business practices interfere with a fair market, it’s time for a change.”

Kurth’s companies buy tickets to resell them on third-party websites such as StubHub.

In a consent decree filed in King County Superior Court, Kurth agreed to the following:

  • Pay $60,000 in costs and fees;

  • Cease all actions that violate Washington’s Ticket Sellers Act; and

  • Cease use of any software intended to evade a ticket-selling website’s security measures in Washington.

Assistant Attorney General Andrea Alegrett led the case for Washington. 

Source: Washington Attorney General

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