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Arkansas Supreme Court to weigh in on Ticketmaster fees

By Alfred Branch Jr.

The subject of Ticketmaster's added fees, which is the focus of a recent Philadelphia bankruptcy case, will be discussed by the Arkansas Supreme Court as part of the deliberations of a lawsuit.

The state's seven-member Supreme Court was asked to offer an opinion on a question posed by Appeals Court Judge James Moody concerning a class action lawsuit filed by Arkansas resident Corey McMillan, who was socked with extra fees when he bought four tickets to an event at the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.

Each ticket for the unnamed show carried a face value of $42.75, but after "a $2.00 'facility charge' for each ticket, a $9.40 'convenience charge' for each ticket and $4.00 for an 'order processing fee,'" the tickets cost $55.15 each, or a total of $220.60.

"The Plaintiff had to pay Ticketmaster over $12.00 extra for each ticket in order to attend this concert at a public arena," the lawsuit states.

McMillan sued Ticketmaster, and parent company Live Nation, under a provision of the state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), because he believes the company violated Arkansas laws pertaining to the sale of tickets.

Under Arkansas statute 5-63-201, a person or company cannot sell a ticket to any "music entertainment event at a greater price than that printed on the ticket or the box office sale price plus any reasonable charge for handling or credit card use, whichever is the greater." By charging the extra fees, McMillan and the class argue that Ticketmaster's action are allegedly "deceptive, unfair and unconscionable and violates one or more provisions of the DTPA."

The state Supreme Court is being asked to essentially answer the question of whether primary ticketing companies are violating Arkansas laws by charging the added fees?

In a court document sent to the Supreme Court, Judge Moody asks whether the Arkansas law is "applicable to an exclusive agent of a public facility who sells music entertainment tickets that include in the price of the ticket additional fees, resulting in the price of the ticket being more than the face value and advertised price of the ticket?"

The state Supreme Court did not set a date for when it expects to render a decision.

Over the years, Ticketmaster and Live Nation have battled in the courts with fans who are angry over fees. In addition to convenience and facility fees, the companies have also been criticized for their delivery charges.

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