TheStar.com | Ontario | Suit says Ticketmaster violated anti-scalping law
Suit says Ticketmaster violated anti-scalping law
TheStar.com - Ontario - Suit says Ticketmaster violated anti-scalping law
February 09, 2009
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Ticketmaster is diverting tickets to its online resale site TicketsNow as part of a "disgraceful" conspiracy to force customers to pay the highest possible price for sporting and entertainment events, a class-action lawsuit launched today alleges.
The resale practice violates anti-scalping provisions laid out in Ontario's Ticket Speculation Act, the statement of action filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice contends.
The defendants "wrongfully, unlawfully (and) maliciously conspired" to sell tickets at a higher price, states the suit, which seeks $500 million in damages for the conspiracy and $10 million for punitive damages.
"Ticketmaster and Ticketmaster Canada divert consumer traffic from their websites to the TicketsNow website," the court documents read.
"This practice is designed to ensure the sale of tickets at the highest price possible, and, in all cases, at a price substantially higher than the price at which the tickets were first issued."
The allegations have not been proven in court and Ticketmaster has not yet filed a statement of defence.
The Vancouver and Toronto-based law firms that launched the suit said people allegedly overcharged when they bought tickets from Ticketmaster or TicketsNow.com after February 2007 will be represented.
The suit was filed on behalf of Henryk Krajewski of Toronto who, in September 2008, purchased two tickets for a Smashing Pumpkins show at Massey Hall from TicketsNow for $533.65, the court documents state. The tickets would have cost about $130 if they had been available from Ticketmaster.
"Henryk pleads that the conduct of the defendants was high-handed, outrageous, reckless, wanton, entirely without care, deliberate, callous, disgraceful, wilful and motivated by economic considerations," reads the statement.
A Ticketmaster representative wasn't available today to respond to the suit.
In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, a company official said they do not divert tickets to TicketsNow or give the resale site any preferential access or treatment.
The company claimed it's providing consumers with a resale service that they want, and one that guarantees that resale tickets are not counterfeit.
Last week, Bruce Springsteen said he was furious with Ticketmaster for redirecting his fans to TicketsNow, where tickets for his homecoming show at the New Jersey Meadowlands were being offered at hundreds of dollars above face value.
New Jersey's attorney general, Anne Milgram, said last week she had asked for more information about the company's sales practices after the state received more than 1,000 complaints. Milgram said redirecting ticket buyers to TicketsNow may violate the state's consumer fraud act.
Lawyer Jay Strosberg of Sutts, Strosberg LLP, one of the two firms behind the Ontario lawsuit, said there had been a lot of interest in the Ticketmaster-TicketsNow situation since Springsteen spoke out.
"Somebody has to address this type of conduct," said Strosberg.
"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."
Ticketmaster purchased TicketsNow last year for US$265 million, and takes a slice of every ticket resold through TicketsNow in addition to the original services charges it levies when tickets are first sold.
"People in Ontario and elsewhere deserve access to entertainment at reasonable prices," said Strosberg.
"As far as we're concerned, this conduct may violate the Ticket Speculation Act."
Ticketmaster has said in response to prior complaints that the company's ticket-selling system is fair and doesn't violate the law.