Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster division learned this week that a California lawsuit, over alleged misleading delivery fees on the company’s Web site, was granted national class action status.
Customers in Illinois and New York claimed in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court that Ticketmaster allegedly misled them into believing that the company’s “Order Processing Charge” and “UPS Delivery” charge were passed on fees, instead of profit generators. The fees range from $14.50 to $25 for ticket delivery. Having tickets sent through regular mail did not incur a fee.
The two customers, Curt Schlesinger of Illinois and Peter LoRe of New York, claimed that had they known the fees were not just passed onto customers, they would not have bought the tickets, or decided on a different delivery method. The two argued that Ticketmaster, which is based in California, violated that state’s False Advertising Law (FAL) and Unfair Competition Law (UCL).
Both consumers had bought multiple tickets in 2003 to concerts in their respective states; Schlesinger’s delivery fees totaled $19.50 and LoRe’s totaled $14.50. In their lawsuit, the two called the fees “unconscionable” and in the case of the Order Processing Charge, it was unfair because they were forced to pay it.
“In light of the foregoing, we reject Ticketmaster’s argument that a nonresident cannot state a claim pursuant to the UCL and FAL. Because we find that a non-resident can state a claim under the UCL and FAL, we reject Ticketmaster’s claim that out-of-state customers should not be part of the putative class. Ticketmaster set the terms by requiring all of its customers, regardless of their state of residence, to agree not only that California law would apply to their claims, but also that suit could only be brought in a court located within California,” wrote Justice Kathyrn Doi Todd in the decision of the state’s Second Appellant District. The decision was made public but was not published in the case’s official reports, however, it allows for the case to move forward under national class action status.
Ticketmaster’s fees have long been a source of complaints from consumers, who have found them at times to be excessive. The company believes they are fair and in some cases Ticketmaster stresses that the fees are contractually negotiated with promoters and venues.
The decision said “…Ticketmaster required each Web site customer to agree that only California law would apply to any disputes, and that any disputes had to be litigated in a state or federal court located in California,” which the plaintiffs did. The class represents Ticketmaster customers from the fall of 1999 to early this year.
The Appellate Court decision overturned an earlier Superior Court decision that restricted the class to California residents only.