Ticketmaster’s All-In Pricing Commitment Proves That The Market Does Not Need Government To Solve Its Problems

Without any need for legislation or government regulation, a host of private companies, including Ticketmaster and Airbnb, have unilaterally decided to provide consumers with upfront, all-in prices, to address rising concerns over the disclosure of fees. These cross-company measures prove that businesses do not need government interference or regulation to amend policies that are driving consumer concerns. If consumers are frustrated enough with a particular business practice, their frustration alone normally suffices at encouraging businesses to alter their behaviors. This broad shift in business practices exemplifies the power of consumers in dictating and changing market forces, even without the aid of government-mandated reform.

Democrats, unsurprisingly, are still not appeased. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) criticized the agreement for being a “voluntary patchwork varying by company,” instead arguing that “Americans deserve a basic disclosure standard so they can be fully aware of the prices and fees they are being charged.” This response includes multiple misconceptions. A decision to stop employing the policy that the government is attempting to abolish is more than a “voluntary patchwork.” It is a voluntary fix. 

If consumers know the price that they will need to pay for a ticket upfront, that fixes the problem.  Any company that does not follow suit within each industry that shifts to this model will also face consumer ire. If a consumer determines that a business’ fee disclosure practices are shady and lack the transparency of their competitors, then they will use alternative companies. Blumenthal seems to believe that a mandated fix has more intrinsic value than a voluntary fix. For consumers, however, a fix is a fix – voluntary or mandated. For the welfare of the economy, a mandated fix only creates a greater regulatory landscape with counterintuitive negative consequences. More regulations within any given industry only make it tougher for new businesses to enter that market to compete against established players. Progressives likely want to use the controversy over fee disclosure to sneak trojan horse legislation through Congress that broadens the powers of the Federal Trade Commission. However, as the market has already solved the problem that has generated so much controversy, Congress has no reason to push forward with these proposals.

Competition suffers from mandated fixes. However, it excels through voluntary fixes, as businesses are able to adapt their practices in a way that simultaneously appeases consumers and increases profits. A mandated fix forces companies to jeopardize one of those two market-driven aims to satisfy the whims of big government. This solution will result in more long-term, positive market results than any Democratic legislation or regulations.

The market’s response to their consumers has eliminated the problem that Democrats are still fixated on solving. Instead of fighting an imaginary ghost, Congress should abandon their attempts to force industry-wide solutions before businesses are financially ready to make them when the market is already self-correcting for those exact issues.