This past summer, the company was criticized in the country over the way Elton John tickets were turning up on TicketsNow, but now a consumer advocate is vowing to turn up the heat and government officials are recommending that future complaints against the ticketing giant be directed to the police.
According to The Canadian Press, the Consumers’ Association of Canada believes the relationship between the two companies should be considered illegal because fans looking for tickets on Ticketmaster’s Web site are sometimes rerouted to the TicketsNow site where those tickets sell for a premium.
There are no laws in Canada preventing Ticketmaster and TicketsNow from doing this, and Joe Freeman, Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Ticketmaster, told The Canadian Press in no uncertain terms that Ticketmaster is not withholding tickets from the public only to put them up for sale at higher prices on TicketsNow.
“We are giving absolutely no preferential access to ticket brokers or anyone affiliated with TicketsNow to get tickets,” Freeman said. “We’re not diverting tickets to TicketsNow.” Freeman will be a speaker next week at Ticket Summit NYC, the ticketing industry conference and trade show scheduled for January 6-8 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. The conference is presented by TicketNews’s parent company TicketNetwork.
Toronto Attorney General Chris Bentley told the news service that he believes that consumers who have complaints about the two companies and their relationship should call law enforcement. “If there are those who are concerned about it, or have identified some issues, they should refer them to the police so they can investigate.”
The issue dogged Ticketmaster and TicketsNow for the better part of last year, since Ticketmaster acquired TicketsNow for $265 million in early 2008. In fact, in May the companies held a one-day meeting with brokers to calm their fears that the companies were trying to freeze them out. During the meeting Ticketmaster President and CEO Sean Moriarty said that artists and their representatives were to blame for tickets turning up on TicketsNow before the public can obtain them from Ticketmaster.
“It’s a conflict, it’s a monopoly, it’s unconscionable,” Mel Fruitman, Vice President of the Canadian consumer group told The Canadian Press. “It may not be illegal, but it sure is immoral and unethical as far as I’m concerned.”
Freeman disagreed, stressing that consumers now have better protections and more opportunities for buying tickets in part because of TicketsNow. “It seems to people it’s instantaneous and they’ve never had a fair shot. It’s as fair a system as we’ve been able to come up with short of having people wait around the block in the freezing cold, as used to happen in the good old days,” he told the news service.
Ticketmaster stock, which trades under the symbol TKTM, was up slightly to about $6.50 per share after 3pm today, January 2, in first day of trading in the New Year. See ticker below.