A dispute between two ticket brokers, one from the U.S. and the other from Canada, over problems with ticket orders from last year’s Vancouver Olympics has resulted in the Canadian broker angrily leaving the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) following mediation efforts by the organization.
Toronto-based Tri-Tickets and Arizona-based eSeats.com, both headed by veteran ticket brokers who had worked together in the past, became embroiled in a dispute last year over Olympics tickets that Tri-Tickets was supposed to provide to fill some of eSeats’ orders.
The NATB’s Board of Directors conducted a months-long investigation into the matter and determined that certain ticket orders allegedly went un-filled and others were incorrectly filled. As a result, the board handed down a judgment last December that ordered Tri-Tickets to pay $15,270 to eSeats within a 30-day period.
Tri-Tickets never paid the judgment, at which point Tri-Tickets’ NATB membership was terminated.
Jorge Correia, who owns Tri-Tickets with his brother Anton, declined to discuss the matter but told TicketNews that Tri-Tickets withdrew as a member of the organization before there was any termination by the group. Tri-Tickets had been a member of the NATB for more 10 years.
“I told them we want to appeal this, but was told that we couldn’t appeal unless we first paid the judgment,” Correia said. “If that’s how they’re going to treat a member, then we won’t be on the NATB.”
Bob Bernstein, CEO of eSeats, declined to comment, but in a lengthy email to NATB members last week, he gave his side of the dispute in which he alludes to how nasty the disagreement became.
“Bringing an NATB complaint against Tri Tickets was not something we wanted to do,” Bernstein wrote. “We hoped that Tri Tickets would want to resolve the broken orders quickly and professionally, but every effort we made was met with expletives and yelling. As Tri Tickets was a member of the NATB we decided to utilize the dispute resolution services offered by the NATB believing that since Tri-Tickets well-established Canadian broker we felt they would value their participation in the NATB and would honor any final judgments the NATB handed down.”
The NATB does not discuss such cases, but it takes complaints among members very seriously. And, while it has moved to terminate memberships in the past, it does not do so often, in part because it tries to set a high standard for members to join in the first place. It also requires its members to agree to stringent refund and customer resolution practices in order to try to keep its reputation strong.
The Vancouver Olympics proved to be a challenge for several brokers, including eSeats, due to difficulty in obtaining tickets, and instances of alleged fraud, including a $3 million case that resulted in eSeats having to sue another broker.