The Secret of the Ticket Sellers

As in 2010, Louis-José Houde will once again go to war against show ticket resale sites. In a video posted to Facebook on June 6, the comedian warns those who buy tickets on these platforms and talks about the dangers that await them.

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“Me, my tickets are about $50. You have to buy them on my website,” he says after naming some of the resale platforms: Billets.ca and Billets.com.

“They are resellers, that’s what they are scalpers who buy tickets and resell them at too high a price, adds Louis-José Houde. Don’t pay $130 a ticket to visit me. I work very hard on my shows but $50 is enough. »

12 years ago, the comedian made a remarkable exit against these resale sites. This led to the passage of Bill 25 in June 2012, allowing the Consumer Protection Agency (OPC) to act faster.


PHOTO DAVID BOILY, THE PRESS

Comedian Louis-José Houde a few hours before the premiere of his last solo show at the Lion d’or

In essence, this law states “that no dealer may charge a consumer for the sale of a show ticket a higher price than that advertised by the seller authorized by the show’s producer”.

In 2014, the OPC struck a blow by launching criminal cases against four show ticket resale websites: Billets.ca, Billets.com, 514-billets.com, and Billetqualite.com. They faced 65 charges and received between $6,000 and $40,000 in insults.

Where do these tickets come from?

In his video, Louis-José Houde makes sure that these sites are “tolerated and legal”. In fact, it gives the owners of these platforms, who claim that the tickets offered are from individuals and that they only act as an intermediary between the seller and the buyer, an advantage over what is permissible.

At the OPC we have seen a redefinition of these sides in recent years. “After the sanctions, these platforms became classifieds sites,” said Charles Tanguay, media relations manager. At least that’s their defense. They say they don’t touch tickets. »

New branding of these platforms does not prevent the management of ADISQ from being skeptical. “If we see emerge batches Tickets give reason to ask questions,” says Ève Paré, vice-president for public affairs and general manager.

“We see whole rows or stacks of tickets in the same section. »

I spoke to Éric Bussières, head of Billets.ca. He repeated to me that his site only offers tickets from individuals. “It’s okay for Louis-José Houde to tell his fans to go through the official box office,” he told me. But I want to say that we are a site where people can post their tickets to resell them. They ask the price they want. It’s normal that they charge more because we charge a 15% commission. The person reselling their tickets is obviously increasing the price. »

This version of the facts does not please producer Benjamin Phaneuf.

Employees of some of these sites put themselves on lists of theater subscribers or join artists’ fan clubs. They receive newsletters telling them they are eligible to presell. You buy multiple sets of two to eight tickets.

Benjamin Phaneuf, Producer

I tried to learn more about the structure of these companies from Éric Bussières.

“I don’t want to say it,” he told me, adding that he has “several” employees. “We’re not just four people,” he added.

Benjamin Phaneuf has noted that the online resale phenomenon has increased since broadcasts resumed after the pandemic. “It’s gotten crazy,” he said. Artists got complaints from people saying, “I like you a lot, but I won’t pay $125 to see you.” We’ve seen prices skyrocket. »

Bad experiences

If Louis-José Houde and ADISQ want to warn about resale sites, it is in particular to avoid bad experiences. Because the problem with these transactions is the lack of communication that may exist.

The pandemic is causing a significant number of cancellations, postponements or time changes. Customers doing business with these platforms are often withheld from this information.


PHOTO BERNARD BRAULT, PRESS ARCHIVE

Mike Ward at Club Soda in 2019

A recent event exposed this error. A Mike Ward show in June had a daylight saving time change. We found that a significant number of latecomers had bought their ticket on one of the resale platforms.

Louis-José Houde, whose shows often take place at 7pm, tells us that a reminder will be sent to those who bought tickets at an official box office. “You paid $300 for a pair of tickets, arrive at 8 p.m. and only see 20 minutes of the show. It’s unfortunate,” he says in his video.

Untangling the real from the fake

Customers searching the internet for tickets to a show or sporting event find themselves in a confusing area. Is it an official ticket office or not?

In fact, after a click or two, you won’t know if you’re browsing a recommended presale site or a resale site.

The resale pages are very well done, you have to be careful.

Benjamin Phaneuf, Producer

Ève Paré recommends that customers always make a transaction from the official website of the artist or venue. “You will be directed to a good ticket office,” she says. Avoid searching Google with the artist’s name and the term “tickets”.

At the OPC I was told that we are again monitoring these resale sites. “I don’t want to push the investigative process too far, but I can tell you that checks are currently being carried out,” Charles Tanguay said. There are ongoing discussions with ADISQ. »

The Ticketmaster case

The Quebec Supreme Court approved a class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster last January. The American platform is accused of having hidden information when reselling show or ice hockey tickets on the secondary market. This branch of Live Nation Entertainment has been criticized for selling tickets by not providing information about the original ticket price. This violates the Consumer Protection Act. In June, another class action lawsuit against this ticketing giant was approved. It targets shortcomings in show ticket refunds following the numerous cancellations linked to the pandemic.

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