(Ticket Scalping and Gift Cards) Bill 2017
18th October 2017
Mr GREG PIPER: He convinced us all. Like other members, I support the bill. I acknowledge and congratulate the Minister and his team on preparing a response to an issue that has been nagging our communities for a long time. This is much-needed reform. In some ways, the issues now surrounding the event ticketing industry are another example of how regulation and legislation have struggled to keep up with technology and the modern world. I have no doubt that this reform will be accepted by the vast majority of fair-minded people in this State. The first part of the bill relates to the expiration of retail gift cards. The bill provides a fairer go for consumers, who lose an estimated $60 million on expired gift cards or expired gift card balances every year. Most people have had that experience.
It is not always the case that people simply forget about a gift card they have received as a birthday or Christmas present, having left it in a sock drawer for a year. In many cases, we are talking about the balances of gift cards or vouchers that are not fully expended and are subsequently forgotten. A person might treat themselves to new clothes with a $100 gift card they received as a birthday present, they spend $80 and keep the balance for later. The card then sits in a handbag, a wallet or a drawer and is forgotten. People think they have a reasonable time to redeem the card and some time can pass before they remember to use it. A gift card can be easily forgotten, but it should not be forgotten that a large retail chain is usually profiting from, perhaps even counting on, forgotten cards.
The three-year period of currency proposed in the bill provides a reasonable amount of time for people to use a gift card. It is fair to the consumer and the retailer. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to control the honouring of gift cards in the event of a retail store closing down or going into administration. I am pleased that after?sales fees will be controlled or eliminated by the bill. There is also a case for better regulating the cost of processing or establishment fees that are charged on the purchase of gift cards. However, I am happy for the consumers to determine whether they are getting a good deal. If a retail store wants to charge a high establishment fee, such as a $10 fee on a $100 gift card, then the consumer reserves the right to walk away and take their business elsewhere. For some time, consumers have too often worn the rough end of the stick when buying gift cards, but this bill tips the balance of fairness in their favour.
The second part of the bill relates to the resale of tickets to major events, concerts and sporting events. This reform is long overdue. It will finally break the unconscionable practices of ticket scalpers and the computer?controlled hijacking of major ticketed events. Genuine ticket buyers have been at a significant disadvantage for too long, almost at the mercy of high?tech scalpers who have created a lucrative industry by taking fair play out of the game. Other members have given examples of this practice. I am aware of many people in my electorate who have been left angered and disappointed at having to compete with computer bots and professional buying or scalping organisations when they buy tickets online. The bots are computer avatars that are able to sweep ticketing sites and buy huge numbers of tickets from them at the same time. This is machine against man, and the machines usually win.
I was astounded to learn that last year one of the major legitimate ticket-selling agencies was bombarded by several billion bot?buying attempts in Australia. This was no more evident when tickets went on sale this year for major concerts by Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran. Many people tried for hours to buy tickets online only to be left disappointed when the websites crashed. The ticketing agencies reported that millions of users were trying to purchase tickets. The reality is that the number of real people trying to purchase tickets was in the tens of thousands while millions of machines were attempting to buy tickets for scalpers and resale businesses.
Mr Brad Hazzard: Did you get some Bruno Mars tickets?
Mr GREG PIPER: I did but Ed Sheeran is my go. Within minutes of these concerts selling out, tickets were being advertised for resale at triple their original cost. What made it even more extraordinary in the case of one of those events is that physical tickets were not provided at the time of sale and would not be provided to purchasers until closer to the event date. This new industry of ticket resale sites will be screaming because this bill will significantly impact on their business model, which was wrong from the start. It relied on unfair practices that significantly disadvantaged people and families and regularly added an enormous cost burden to those who were genuinely trying to buy tickets to a major sporting event or concert. No doubt these unscrupulous scalpers will still find a way to make a big buck, but I am confident that this legislation will significantly impact on their existence. It sends a message that this Government is serious about pursuing this issue.
I have no problem with the rights of genuine ticket resale sites to exist in the marketplace. There will always be circumstances where people are not able to attend an event for which they have bought tickets, and the resale industry allows them to recoup their costs. But the recouping of costs should not be about feeding a whole new industry of profiteers and unscrupulous market manipulators at the expense of people doing the right thing. This is a commonsense response to an issue that has been nagging the community for a long time. I acknowledge the good work of the Minister and his staff. I thank him for introducing the bill.
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