Already busy defending its planned merger with Live Nation and fighting a class action lawsuit in Canada, Ticketmaster Entertainment now finds itself walking back...

Already busy defending its planned merger with Live Nation and fighting a class action lawsuit in Canada, Ticketmaster Entertainment now finds itself walking back statements Chairman Barry Diller made about credit card company VISA and its alleged role in the recent Bruce Springsteen ticket fiasco.

During an investor conference call Tuesday, February 10, to discuss the merger, Diller said that problems with the sale of Springsteen tickets was due in part to a computer “glitch” with Visa’s technology.

Angered by the characterization, Visa Inc. fired off a statement saying that it was inaccurate to partially blame the company.

“We were surprised by the comments of Ticketmaster CEO Barry Diller regarding their recent ticket issues,” Joe Carberry, spokesperson for Visa Inc., said in the statement. “Ticketmaster’s characterization that an earlier technical ‘glitch’ impacting its online ticket sales was related to Visa’s systems is inaccurate. Visa’s processing network was fully functional on February 2 with no authorization issues. In fact, VisaNet has run with nearly 100 percent reliability for the past decade.”



Carberry added, “VisaNet is the world’s largest retail payment network, securely and reliably facilitating the transfer of value and information every minute of every day of the year. We operate four processing centers on three continents that are fully synchronized and operate identical authorization platforms. This enables Visa to reroute transaction volume from one data center to another as needed. Our multiple and redundant systems help ensure that VisaNet can continuously meet the processing demands of all our customers worldwide.”

Over the past year, since acquiring secondary ticket company TicketsNow for $265 million, Ticketmaster has been criticized for redirecting fans to the secondary Web site when tickets sell out on Ticketmaster’s site. The company has denied purposely doing this, but has admitted that artists and their representatives have quickly resold tickets on TicketsNow.

Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff issued an apology for the mix up to Springsteen and his fans last week, and Tuesday released an open letter to take Visa off the hook, and further explain what happened:

AN OPEN LETTER TO TICKETMASTER AND TICKETSNOW CUSTOMERS:

Ticketmaster regrets any confusion surrounding the recent sale of Bruce Springsteen concert tickets in New Jersey and the misunderstandings that have resulted about the ticket-selling relationship between Ticketmaster and TicketsNow.

Here are the facts: On February 2nd, tickets for a number of Bruce Springsteen concerts went on sale, including two in New Jersey and one in New York. Because of Mr. Springsteen’s popularity, there were many more fans trying to buy tickets through Ticketmaster.com than there were tickets available. Consequently, many ticket order requests could not be filled. Also, during the sale, a software issue resulted in some fans who were trying to buy tickets for the New York and New Jersey shows seeing a system maintenance-related error message and certain credit card transactions locked up during the payment process causing the consumer to be unable to complete the transaction. In both cases the fans involved had to return to the Ticketmaster.com site to start another search.

Consistent with our policy at the time to provide consumers with other ticket purchasing options in the event we are unable to fulfill a specific ticket request on Ticketmaster.com, fans who were unable to secure tickets responsive to their search were given three choices – either to search again using different parameters, come back later, or click on a link to see inventory available on TicketsNow. Some consumers who chose to link to TicketsNow and then completed a purchase of tickets on that website, however, have complained that they were confused and believed they were instead purchasing tickets from the initial on-sale on Ticketmaster.com.

While we believe the messaging on the site was clear when consumers chose to switch to the TicketsNow web page, we nevertheless took immediate action to offer refunds to Bruce Springsteen ticket purchasers who told us they were confused by the process by refunding the difference between the TicketsNow purchase price and the face value of the ticket. In addition, to address the concerns we have received from our consumers, we have removed all links to TicketsNow from our Ticketmaster website. We will now only provide an option to link to our TicketsNow site when the venue and artist request that we do so as a service to fans, and when we do, it will be very clear that this option offers tickets that are posted on TicketsNow for resale.

Since that time, additional questions have emerged regarding Ticketmaster and TicketsNow which we would like to address directly: Ticketmaster does not set ticket prices or control ticket availability – those decisions are made by the artist and the venue. Ticketmaster sells tickets directly to fans and does not divert tickets to brokers or others reselling tickets, including our affiliate TicketsNow. TicketsNow does not receive any preferential access to tickets that Ticketmaster is selling on behalf of its clients. Effective February 5th, TicketsNow no longer accepts ticket postings for events that have not yet gone on sale, and we have urged other ticket resellers to adopt the same consumer-friendly position. Consumers searching for tickets for an event on Ticketmaster.com are never, and have never been, offered the option of searching for available inventory on the TicketsNow secondary marketplace if the specific ticket request they submitted could be fulfilled in the primary on-sale through Ticketmaster.

Our goal is to deliver the best live entertainment experience to all consumers and we will continue to strive for improvements going forward.

Ticketmaster

More TicketMaster/LiveNation merger news

Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Canadian officials look at TicketsNow 03/09/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: NATB schedules meeting about the deal 03/04/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Live Nation reports 4Q loss 03/03/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Canadian AG investigates Ticketmaster 03/02/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: National Association of Ticket Brokers irate 02/27/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Azoff would consider selling TicketsNow 02/26/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Azoff, Rapino and new speakers for House hearing 02/25/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Trouble with Leonard Cohen tickets on TicketsNow, and a third class action lawsuit 02/25/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Companies grilled by skeptical Senators 02/24/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Senate hearing to be webcast 02/24/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: New Jersey AG settles investigation with Ticketmaster over Bruce Springsteen tickets 02/23/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Shareholder lawsuit details deal’s undervaluation 02/20/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Azoff, Rapino to testify at Senate hearing 02/20/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Dates set for congressional hearings 02/18/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Ticketmaster shareholders sue to block the proposed deal 02/17/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Law firm launches investigation into TicketsNow 02/16/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: Live Nation expects strong 4th Quarter 02/13/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: major shareholder may oppose the deal 02/13/2009
Ticketmaster faces second class action lawsuit in Canada 02/12/2009
Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger: stocks take a beating 02/12/2009
Visa fires back at Ticketmaster for ‘glitch’ statement 02/11/2009
U.S. Justice Department launches review of Live Nation, Ticketmaster merger 02/11/2009
LiveStub CEO Michael Hershfield discusses the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger 02/11/2009
Ticketmaster and Live Nation claim now was the best time to merge 02/10/2009
Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment agree to unprecedented merger 02/10/2009
Ticketmaster, Live Nation merger expected within a day 02/09/2009
Ticketmaster, TicketsNow face $500 million class action suit in Canada 02/09/2009
Connecticut AG wants review of proposed Ticketmaster, Live Nation merger 02/06/2009
Opposition mounts against proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation 02/05/2009
Ticketmaster apologizes to Bruce Springsteen and his fans over ticket mix-up 02/05/2009
Bruce Springsteen rips Ticketmaster over tickets and proposed Live Nation merger 02/04/2009
TicketNetwork CEO Don Vaccaro speaks with Fox Business about Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger 02/04/2009
Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment talk merger 02/04/2009

By Alfred Branch Jr.