Accusing the two companies of ticket fraud, two New Jersey residents have filed a class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster Entertainment and its secondary ticketing subsidiary TicketsNow for the way the pair allegedly handled sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets earlier in the year.
The plaintiffs, Kimberly Vining and Donna Crowley, accuse the two companies of “artificially” manipulating “the market price of concert and event tickets by wrongfully directing tickets from Ticketmaster’s website to Ticketsnow.com’s website,” according to a statement from their attorney John Keefe, Jr. of the firm Keefe Bartels Clark in Red Bank, NJ.
Ticketmaster’s handling of the Springsteen ticket onsale resulted in a blizzard of complaints, which led to New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram to investigate the matter and ultimately force a $350,000 settlement with Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster did not admit to any wrongdoing in as a part of the settlement.
The lawsuit states:
During the class period, Ticketmaster and TicketsNow (a wholly owned subsidiary of Ticketmaster) conspired to defraud the Class by engaging in an unlawful scheme to artificially and systematically inflate the prices of event tickets sold by Defendants.
Through agreements with venues artists and/or event promoters, Ticketmaster obtains (usually exclusive) rights to sell tickets to sporting, music, and other entertainment events. These tickets are sold on their website, www.ticketmaster.com.
When tickets are scheduled to go on sale, customers typically log into the Ticketmaster website and purchase the desired tickets. However, Ticketmaster has engaged in a practice whereby large quantities of tickets, usually the most desirable tickets, are sold, redirected or otherwise conveyed by express or implicit agreement to TicketsNow.com, which charges ticket purchasers more than face value for tickets, sometimes up to thousands of dollars more than face value.
The result is that, within minutes or even seconds of tickets going on sale at
Ticketmaster, purchasers are informed that tickets to an event are sold out or otherwise unavailable. These individuals are then rerouted directly from Ticketmaster’s website to TicketsNow.com. The format and layout of the two webpages are purposely similar to conceal that TicketsNow is a separate entity, which sells tickets on the secondary market and at above face value. In fact, TicketsNow expressly identifies itself as a Ticketmaster company. Consequently, customers redirected to TicketsNow believe that they are purchasing tickets at face value directly from Ticketmaster.
This artificial manipulation of the market price for tickets results in purchasers having no choice but to pay grossly inflated prices for tickets, just minutes after the tickets first become available to the public.
The law firm said its investigation into the two companies turned up evidence of the alleged ticket fraud, prompting the lawsuit.
Neither Keefe nor Ticketmaster returned messages seeking comment.
“By wrongfully manipulating the primary and secondary markets for tickets, Ticketmaster and TicketsNow have been unjustly enriched and earned substantially greater commissions and other charges than would have been realized had the tickets been sold through the primary markets to consumers, including the plaintiffs,” Keefe said in a statement.
The Ticketmaster/TicketsNow relationship has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, not only in the U.S. but also in Canada. Such investigations come at a delicate time for Ticketmaster because the company is battling to have its proposed merger with Live Nation accepted by federal regulators.