Gansler settles with Ticketmaster

Bryan Cohen May 4, 2011, 3:32am


BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced a settlement on Monday with three Ticketmaster companies over allegedly deceptive ticket resale practices.

Gansler's Consumer Protection Division alleged that Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., Inc., and TNOW Entertainment Group Inc. misled customers who could not find tickets on the Ticketmaster website into entering its TicketsNow resale site. The division also alleged that in 2009, the companies sold Bruce Springsteen Verizon Center concert tickets on its TicketsNow resale site that it did not have and therefore could not provide.

When consumers sought tickets on Ticketmaster's website and the tickets were sold out in the past, the consumers were told "No Tickets Found" and were invited to continue their ticket search on the "TicketsNow" website.

The division alleges that when customers opted to continue the ticket search, Ticketmaster did not inform the consumers that they were being diverted to a resale website where ticket brokers and resellers potentially offered tickets for sale at inflated prices. The division alleges that after the tickets to the Bruce Springsteen concert had sold out within minutes, many consumers were referred to the TicketsNow site without realizing they were being transferred to a resale website.

The Ticketmaster companies allegedly misled companies by failing to advise consumers that the resale tickets they were purchasing were not actually in the resellers' possession at the time they were sold and they were "speculative tickets" that the resellers speculated they would be able to obtain and provide. In 2009, more than 200 consumers allegedly purchased tickets to the Bruce Springsteen concert and did not receive the tickets they had purchased. The Ticketmaster companies offered a "100% guarantee" but consumers received a refund, not the guaranteed tickets, Gansler says.

"Ticketmaster misled consumers when it offered tickets without informing them that they were being sold by brokers at inflated prices, and then, even at the inflated prices, it failed to provide the purchased tickets," Gansler said. "Under this settlement, Ticketmaster must be more transparent when it steers consumers to its resale website so that consumers understand what they are purchasing."

The Ticketmaster companies denied that they violated the Consumer Protection Act but did agree to inform consumers who opt to search for tickets on the TicketsNow website that they are being transferred to a resale website where tickets are offered at prices that exceed their face value.

In addition, the settlement requires that the Ticketmaster companies clearly describe the tickets being offered for resale, including if they are speculative or not. The settlement requires the Ticketmaster companies to cease using guarantees that could be construed as deceptive unless Ticketmaster will guarantee to deliver the tickets.

The Ticketmaster companies have agreed to pay the division $10,000, which will be used to pay damages to consumers who purchased but did not receive tickets to the 2009 Bruce Springsteen concert if they were not already fully compensated by Ticketmaster. The Ticketmaster companies will also pay costs to the division in the amount of $25,000 and a $90,000 civil penalty.

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