Live Nation spars with senator over its vow to ditch hidden ticket fees

Live Nation and U.S. Senator Cory Booker are at odds over the ticket giant’s promise to eliminate hidden fees when fans purchase tickets to concerts and other events.

The conflict erupted after Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, wrote a letter to Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino, demanding he honor a 2017 pledge to end “drip pricing.” Booker said the company had misled fans by still charging hidden fees, Politico reported.

In a July 2017 blog post, Live Nation had pledged to eliminate the longstanding industry practice of adding fees to the “price” of a ticket, which appeared to be lower than the total cost.

But the company is now backing away from that pledge, arguing that it does not apply to certain events or tickets. A spokesperson for Live Nation told Politico the company worked hard to address fee transparency and provide a “more seamless fan experience” when buying tickets, but it still has the right to charge fees on select tickets and events.

In his letter, Booker blasted Live Nation for misrepresenting its fees policy to fans and called on the company to honor its 2017 pledge. “It is an open question whether terming these charges ‘service fees’ makes them morally permissible,” he wrote.

The dispute could have serious implications for Live Nation, which is the largest ticket seller in the U.S., accounting for nearly 30 percent of all ticket sales. If the company is found to have misled fans or violated consumer protection laws, it could face fines or other penalties.