The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently began mailing out refund forms to Bruce Springsteen fans who were part of a settlement the agency reached with Ticketmaster over the company allegedly practicing “deceptive bait-and-switch tactics.”
When the settlement was reached in February of this year, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a statement that while Ticketmaster was not admitting to any wrongdoing, the company had misled ticket buyers when it redirected fans to its secondary ticket sales Web site TicketsNow to buy more expensive Bruce Springsteen tickets.
“Buying tickets should not be a game of chance. Ticketmaster’s refrain is that it sold through TicketsNow to give consumers more choices. But when you steer consumers to your resale Web sites without clear disclosures, and they unknowingly buy tickets at higher prices, they’ll be left with a sour note,” Leibowitz stated.
The FTC sent out refund letters to 1,018 fans who were affected by the deception, which occurred in early 2009, just prior Ticketmaster and Live Nation announcing their plan to merge.
Those fans had bought tickets to Springsteen shows in 14 cities: Glendale, AZ; San Jose and Los Angeles, CA; Denver, CO; Hartford, CT; Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; St. Paul, MN; East Rutherford, NJ; Long Island, NY; Pittsburgh and University Park, PA; and Washington, DC. The refund letters were mailed out earlier in the month, but the FTC did not publicly disclose the mailing until today, September 15.
In New Jersey, former Attorney General Anne Milgram settled similar complaints with Ticketmaster over the Springsteen ticket sales.
In a statement today on the FTC Web site, the agency explained the settlement:
According to the February 2010 FTC complaint, Ticketmaster steered unknowing consumers to TicketsNow, where tickets were offered at prices that were sometimes double, triple, or quadruple the face value of the ticket. Under the settlement, these concertgoers will get back the difference between what they paid for their tickets and what they would have paid on Ticketmaster. For example, if a consumer paid $400 for two tickets from TicketsNow, and those same two tickets would have cost $200 from Ticketmaster, the customer will get a $200 refund. Ticketmaster provided the FTC with a list that included the 1,018 eligible concertgoers who had not received refunds for the extra money they paid to buy the higher-priced tickets from TicketsNow.
The 1,018 refund recipients must send in their completed forms by next month (the letters must be post-marked on or before October 8). Fans who believe they should be entitled to the refund, but did not receive a form, are urged to contact the FTC at 1-866-332-6536.