Milgram settlement not tough enough, Newark paper says

John O'Brien Feb. 25, 2009, 1:57pm


NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - A major New Jersey newspaper is criticizing state Attorney General Anne Milgram's recent settlement with Ticketmaster.

A Newark Star-Ledger editorial published Wednesday says the terms of the agreement between Milgram and Ticketmaster are not punishing enough. The ticket broker is getting off too easy for using a bait-and-switch tactic to drive the prices of Bruce Springsteen concert tickets up, it says.

Milgram and Ticketmaster reached a settlement Monday that provided a drawing for 1,000 consumers who filed complaints to purchase two tickets each to another Springsteen concert and those who are not chosen will receive $100 Ticketmaster gift certificates. Also, they will be given first opportunity to purchase tickets to a future Springsteen concert.

"That's it. No stinging fine," the editorial says. "Ticketmaster will reimburse the state for $350,000 spent on investigators and attorneys, but that's pocket change to a company now trying to persuade Congress to approve a $4.5 billion merger with concert promoter Live Nation."

Consumers have complained that they could not purchase Springsteen tickets from the Ticketmaster Web site because it was either down because of technical difficulties or it said the show was sold out.

It is alleged Ticketmaster was intentionally steering customers to its TicketsNow subsidiary to charge higher prices. The settlement with Milgram creates a wall between the two for at least a year.

Ticketmaster also agreed to refund the difference between the purchase price and the face value of the tickets.

"This settlement swiftly and fairly resolves a significant issue for thousands of loyal Springsteen fans in the Garden State who believe that Ticketmaster tilted the playing field against their efforts to purchase tickets to the May concerts," Milgram said in a release.

"Everyone deserves an equal chance to buy tickets on a primary ticket selling website and shouldn't be steered to a re-selling website where the prices can be substantially higher."

The editorial criticized Milgram for her response to a question during a press conference.

"At Monday's press conference, Milgram dodged a question on whether brokers had an advantage over regular buyers -- except to say it was 'unacceptable' that scalpers were already hawking tickets the moment public sales began," it says.

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