FTC: Springsteen fans screwed by TicketMaster Web deception get refunds

FTC: TicketMaster charged TicketMaster used bait-and-switch tactics to sell Springsteen tix

The Federal Trade Commission today said it mailed claim forms to 1,018 consumers who are eligible for refunds because they allegedly were steered from the Ticketmaster website to its ticket resale website TicketsNow while buying tickets to attend 2009 Bruce Springsteen concerts.  Ticketmaster and its affiliates agreed to pay refunds to some of the concertgoers to settle FTC charges that they used deceptive bait-and-switch tactics to sell event tickets, the agency stated.

According to the FTC claim forms were mailed to some concertgoers who bought tickets for shows in 14 cities:  Glendale, Ariz.; San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Hartford, Conn.; Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago, Ill.; Boston, Mass.; Saint Paul, Minn.; East Rutherford, N.J.; Long Island, N.Y.; Pittsburgh, Pa..; University Park, Pa..; and Washington, DC.

In February, the FTC said Ticketmaster steered unknowing consumers to TicketsNow, where tickets were offered at prices that were sometimes double, triple, or quadruple the face value of the ticket.  Under the settlement, these concertgoers will get back the difference between what they paid for their tickets and what they would have paid on Ticketmaster. For example, if a consumer paid $400 for two tickets from TicketsNow, and those same two tickets would have cost $200 from Ticketmaster, the customer will get a $200 refund.  Ticketmaster provided the FTC with a list that included the 1,018 eligible concertgoers who had not received refunds for the extra money they paid to buy the higher-priced tickets from TicketsNow, the FTC stated.

In addition to the deception the FTC said Ticketmaster failed to tell buyers that many of the resale tickets advertised on TicketsNow.com were not actual tickets secured for sale at the time they were listed and bought. In fact, some tickets were being sold speculatively - that is, they were merely offers to try to find tickets. For example, many consumers hoping to go to a Springsteen concert at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC in May 2009 paid for tickets in February that never materialized. Ticketmaster kept the sales proceeds for more than three months without a reasonable basis for believing it could fulfill the orders, the FTC complaint alleged.

With the settlement, eligible consumers who have not previously received a refund will get back the extra money they paid to buy the higher-priced tickets from TicketsNow. For example, if a consumer paid $400 for two tickets from TicketsNow, and those same two tickets would have cost $200 from Ticketmaster, the customer would get a $200 refund, the FTC stated.

Claims must be filed by mail on or before October 8, 2010.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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