’Fans deserve a fair shot:’ Alberta proposes help for online ticket buyers

EDMONTON — Alberta plans to bring in new rules to protect consumers if they get shut out by bots when trying to buy concert or show tickets online.

Proposed legislation introduced Wednesday would also give the province the power to take action if buyers didn’t get the tickets they bought on a resale site.

“There is a widespread feeling among Albertans that the ticketing system is rigged against them,” said Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean.

“Fans deserve a fair shot at tickets to see their favourite artists.”

The proposed legislation is responding to frustrated buyers who log on to buy tickets mere seconds after sales go online only to discover the show is sold out. The bill would require ticket-sellers doing business in the province to weed out such 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 even seek jail time.

The legislation would also make it clear that ticket-buyers could sue ticket-sellers for compensation on the grounds that the tickets were sold to bots.

Secondary ticket-sellers doing business in Alberta, such as StubHub, would have to fully refund prices 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 could’t try to stop customers from filing negative reviews online.

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 costs before giving the OK for their animals to get treatment.