New York attorney general probes Springsteen ticket listings

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AG Eric Schneiderman expresses concern over Bruce Springsteen ticket gouge.

NEW YORK — New York’s attorney general is looking into whether “speculative” ticket listings for Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 tour on ticket resale sites constitute deceptive advertising. Concert-ticket Web sites have become a “Jungleland” for Bruce Springsteen fans, as schemers are already selling tickets for his next tour for as much as $7,500 — even though tickets don’t go on sale until Friday. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters Monday to StubHub, TicketNetwork and Vivid Seats asking about the practice of offering seats on secondary markets when the seller may not possess the tickets. The letters also ask company executives to meet with investigators in the internet bureau to answer questions about how they identify and combat speculative ticket sales.

Resellers, the letters say, offer the tickets despite not having them on hand with the idea they will purchase them at a lower price from a different source before selling them for profit. “Speculative ticket sales also drive up prices for consumers, and often cause widespread confusion and frustration among consumers, who wonder how tickets can appear on the resale market before tickets are released to the public,” he added. He vowed an investigation. “In many cases, consumers who purchase a speculative ticket do not receive the seats that were advertised and paid for,” he said. “In some cases, consumers receive no tickets at all.” The Boss will embark on a 22-stop US tour starting Jan. 16.

The letters ask that the brokers remove the speculative tickets from the site, asks how the tickets got on the site, and what the site does to protect consumers from speculative tickets. “They’re selling tickets which they don’t have yet, by taking the seating chart on our website and saying, ‘I’ve got this seat and this seat,'” said Blue Cross Arena Manager Jeff Calkins. “Then they contact the buyer after they get the tickets and say, ‘I haven’t got section 104, but I’ve got section 107.'” The ticket broker pockets the difference between the true ticket price and what the customer paid for the ticket. His 2012-13 tour pulled in $422 million — and ticket resellers are hoping to get a slice of that pie early by offering the early speculative tickets for massive markups. And, Calkins warns, if the tickets from this transaction don’t arrive in the mail, the Springsteen fan is left with no recourse the day of the show, since the tickets were purchased through a second party. “I had one lady call me this week who said she had tickets in Section 32 and said, ‘Those look like pretty good seats,'” Calkins said. “I said, ‘Well, there is no Section 32.'” While the Attorney General’s Office has issued consumer alerts in the past regarding heavily marked-up tickets for high-interest events for sale on the Internet, according to a spokesman in Schneiderman’s office this appears to be the first time that the state has directly approached Internet sites about speculative tickets.

It is unclear whether the sites themselves, or brokers using the sites to sell the tickets, could be the target of a consumer fraud investigation by the attorney general. Other issues will include how speculative tickets are identified, what steps are taken to remove them from the sites, and if there are any consequences for the sellers. In 2009, Ticketmaster customers complained that the site had pointed them without their knowledge to TicketsNow, then TicketMaster’s online resale site, where tickets were being scalped well above face value.

Even though both The Post and the AG’s Office were able to find Springsteen tickets on StubHub, the site insisted there were no sales going on there. A spokesperson from Vivid Seats confirmed receiving the letter and said the company shared “the goal of ensuring a positive customer experience in ticket buying”. Since then, Live Nation has pursued the secondary ticket market aggressively, and for many concerts it lists new tickets alongside others that are being offered for resale. Recently Adele released tickets for sale in Europe using Songkick, a concert listing and ticketing site, and announced that “the resale of tickets will not be tolerated.” According to Songkick and Adele’s manager, that system kept most of the first batch of tickets out of resale markets.

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