TicketsNow, the controversial secondary ticket exchange owned by Ticketmaster, recently booted off of its exchange the broker Web sites AnyTickets.com and TicketAttractions.com for allegedly using “bot software” to obtain tickets, a charge the owners of the two Web sites vehemently deny.
The two broker Web sites are owned by Texas-based business partners Marcus Stern and Jim Barr, who a year before being kicked off of TicketsNow, settled an unrelated lawsuit with Ticketmaster that centered on similar allegations of utilizing unfair means to obtain tickets. Terms of that settlement were not disclosed.
Stern and Barr have been a part of TicketsNow’s exchange for nearly a decade, and their combined sites were generating an estimated $5 million in sales per year, making the sites among TicketsNow’s larger broker/clients.
Yet, since TicketsNow was acquired by Ticketmaster in early 2008, the company’s direction and mission has changed, and in recent months TicketsNow has come under intense scrutiny for its relationship with Ticketmaster.
In an effort to court the favor of fans and politicians who have criticized some of it business practices, TicketsNow has launched an aggressive transparency initiative that could have indirectly resulted in its alleged dispute with AnyTickets/TicketAttractions because it questioned how Stern and Barr were acquiring tickets. Bot software, which the two men deny using, has been outlawed in several states over the past year because it unfairly allows users to circumvent Ticketmaster online security measures to quickly snap up blocks of tickets.
In a prepared statement, the two men said that they offered to allow an independent third-party investigator review how the company obtains tickets, but Ticketmaster refused. Instead, the company asked Stern and Barr for information on their ticket sources, which the two would not disclose.
Like many brokers, the partners have built up a group of reliable sources for tickets, and they do not want to jeopardize those relationships.
“Brokers and suppliers to the secondary market are now under assault by these types of tactics [by Ticketmaster],” the two said in a statement.
When contacted by TicketNews, Stern and Barr declined to comment, referring questions to their attorney John Case of California.
TicketsNow did not respond to questions about its decision to remove the company from its exchange.
“I’m not sure what TicketsNow’s grounds are to terminate this relationship,” Case said. “My clients did not have any dispute with TicketsNow, and yet their rights were terminated.”
(This story was edited at 3:15pm EST on July 9, 2009, to remove an incorrect logo, and to use the right titles and links for AnyTickets.com and TicketAttractions.com.)