Ticketmaster faces a class-action lawsuit in the wake of accusations that the website actively colluded with ticket-scalpers to rip off concert-goers and sports fans.
Rolling Stone reports that law firm Hagens Berman filed the suit in a California federal court on Friday. Headed by lead plaintiff Allen Lee, the complaint accuses Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment of “unlawful and unfair business practices” which have “unjustly enriched” commercial and individual merchants at the expense of customers.
“Have you ever wondered why Ticketmaster has been unable to rid itself of the scalpers who purchase mass quantiites of concert or sports tickets from its website and then resell them for much more minutes later?” asks the suit. “The answer: Ticketmaster hasn’t wanted to rid itself of scalpers because, as it turns out, they have been working with them.”
First uncovered by CBC and the Toronto Star in September, a Canadian media investigation revealed that Ticketmaster ‘secretly helps scalpers grab mass quantities of tickets for resale.’
Ticketmaster’s impetus is simple: the website takes a cut of secondary sales, all of which take place aboard their own virtual platform. That tactic alone isn’t legal—but, as Rolling Stone writes, mass resales violate the company’s own stated policies.
Attorney Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman, said Ticketmaster’s collusion is effectively a “highly controlled black-market scheme.”
“Indeed, on its own website, Ticketmaster refers to the activity of professional scalpers as ‘unfair competition,’” says the suit. “But now it has been caught secretly permitting, facilitating and actively encouraging the sale of tickets by scalpers on the secondary market using its TradeDesk platform—all for a second cut of the sales.”
Berman says the proposed class could include anyone in the United States who’s purchased a ticket from a professional reseller with connections to Ticketmaster’s secondary market.
While Ticketmaster has yet to make a public statement, the U.S. government has demanded an explanation. U.S. senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino last week, demanding that the company clarify its resale policy considering that the “allegations of the harms to consumers” are “serious and deserve immediate attention.”
“When you think of ticket buyers being swindled by scalpers, you likely imagine last-minute sales outside venue doors,” Berman said in a press release. “You certainly wouldn’t assume the company selling the tickets—Ticketmaster—to be the ringleader behind massive price hikes spanning millions of tickets.”
Berman says anyone whose purchased tickets from resale platforms like TicketsNow and Ticketmaster Verified join the suit, which has yet to be certified by a federal judge.
Ticketmaster representatives purportedly told undercover CBC reports that the company ignores scalpers—even those who use bots and fake identities—as a matter of course and policy.