Published Feb 10, 2009Ticketmaster was slapped with a $500-million class-action lawsuit on Monday (February 9), which accused the company and its subsidiary TicketsNow of conspiring to resell tickets at inflated prices.
The suit alleges Ticketmaster "wrongfully, unlawfully [and] maliciously conspired" to sell tickets in Canada at the highest prices possible by diverting customers to its resale site, TicketsNow, and accuses the defendants of violating Ontario's Ticket Speculation Act, which is aimed at preventing ticket scalping.
"Ticketmaster and Ticketmaster Canada divert consumer traffic from their websites to the TicketsNow website," the court documents read [via Canadian Press]. "This practice is designed to ensure the sale of tickets at the highest possible price and, in all cases, at a price substantially higher than the price at which the tickets were first issued."
Ticketmaster has yet to comment on the allegations, nor have the claims been proven in court.
Toronto-based law firm Sutts, Strosberg LLP and Vancouver firm Branch MacMaster said that people who believe they have been overcharged when buying tickets from Ticketmaster or TicketsNow after February 9, 2007 will be represented in the suit.
"We're hearing from people that... they can't buy tickets for the face value, and if you want to go to see your favourite artist, you have to pay two or three times the face value," Jay Strosberg of Sutts, Strosberg LLP told the Toronto Star. "It's a matter of fairness. It's also causing a fair amount of frustration."
Strosberg added that the law firms have set up an online registration system for people to join the class action suit at ticketmasterclassaction.com. "Our office has been flooded with calls," he said. "We have a registration system online and people are registering at a speed which we've never seen."
The class-action suit was filed on behalf of a Toronto man named Henry Krajewski, who in 2008 bought two tickets to a Smashing Pumpkins concert in Toronto. The tickets had a face value of $66.50 each, but Krajewski claims Ticketmaster directed him to TicketsNow, where he bought a pair of tickets for $533.65 (or $266.83 each).
The case mirrors recent complaints in the U.S. Last week, Bruce Springsteen said he was outraged that Ticketmaster redirected his fans to TicketsNow, who offered his tickets for hundreds of dollars above face value. In response, New Jersey's attorney general, Anne Milgram, demanded a federal investigation be launched into the company's sales practices after receiving more than 1,000 complaints.
The Star reports that Springsteen fans hoping to see his May 7 concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto met similar problems with Ticketmaster. On Friday (February 6), several fans called the newspaper to complain the show had sold out within minutes but, shortly afterwards, noticed that more than 800 tickets had appeared on TicketsNow for prices as high as $1,338.
"Somebody has to address this type of conduct," Strosberg said. "How the transaction happens, in the sense that the primary market actually also controls the secondary market, raises a lot of questions that deserve answers."