New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram today said she had reached a settlement with Ticketmaster Entertainment, and its TicketsNow subsidiary, over the way it handled recent sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, and calls on Ticketmaster to pay $350,000 to “cover investigative, attorney and administrative fees and to support New Jersey consumer protection initiatives.”
The state’s Division of Consumer Affairs received more than 2,000 complaints in connection with the sale of tickets to Springsteen shows scheduled for May at the Izod Center, under which consumers were redirected to the TicketsNow Web site when tickets were allegedly sold out on Ticketmaster’s site. The move prompted New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell to call for an investigation, and led to Springsteen blasting Ticketmaster for the practice. The company quickly apologized for the move.
According to Milgram, the settlement calls for “a random drawing for 1,000 consumers who filed complaints against Ticketmaster” to buy two tickets each to one of the Izod Center shows. The consumers who filed complaints but are not chosen in the random drawing will receive a $100 Ticketmaster gift certificate and the chance to buy Springsteen tickets for a future New Jersey performance.
Ticketmaster is also refunding the difference people paid who bought tickets from TicketsNow at a higher price, and the company will complete the transactions for some fans whose purchases were not finished.
“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,’’ Attorney General Milgram said in a statement. “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.”
“Because of the excellent cooperation of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the agreement will make tickets available for many of those who filed complaints with the Division of Consumer Affairs as of last week,” Milgram added. “I also want to thank Bruce Springsteen and his management in our efforts to hammer out this agreement. He was as outraged as anyone over the circumstances surrounding the sale of tickets to his concerts.”
In addition, Ticketmaster will virtually wall itself off from the secondary market site TicketsNow.com “for at least a year for all shows and entertainment events Ticketmaster handles,” and after that year the company will have to gain approval from the Attorney General before posting any links between its “No Tickets Found” Web page and TicketsNow. Also, the company agreed not to do any “paid Internet search advertising that would lead consumers searching for ‘Ticketmaster’ on Internet search engines to its TicketsNow re-sale site,” and all tickets “it receives for sale to the general public will be sold on its primary market website. Ticketmaster will also not allow any tickets to be sold on TicketsNow.com until the initial sale begins on its primary site.
Ticketmaster has long been criticized for the practice of how it was handling ticket sales in relation to TicketsNow, and the settlement comes a day before Ticketmaster and Live Nation will appear before members of the U.S. Senate to discuss their proposed, $2.5 billion merger.
“Significantly, Ticketmaster has agreed to change its business practices and not allow any link from its No Tickets Found Internet page to re-sale Internet sites for at least one year, and after that any proposed linkage will not be permitted unless approved by my office,” Milgram said in a statement.
(The image accompanying this story is from BruceSpringsteen.net)