While the corporate Hydra that is Ticketmaster may have just added another head in the form of a merger with Live Nation, the result of the monstrosity’s tug of war with Bruce Springsteen fans over refunds for scalped tickets shows the vendor isn’t completely invincible.
Billboard reports (via Pitchfork) that the Federal Trade Commission says Ticketmaster must repay Springsteen fans “upwards of one $1 million” for essentially scalping their own tickets. When fans of the iconic Jersey rocker visited the ticketing site, many were met with a “no tickets found” message (even though face-value tickets were indeed still available in many cases, according to Yahoo! News). Customers were then redirected to Ticketmaster’s TicketsNow website, where tickets were going for up to four times the original price. To make matters worse, TicketsNow didn’t tell consumers it was selling “phantom tickets,” meaning that the company did not actually have the vouchers. Rather, TicketsNow’s sales were more of a promise to try to find the stubs for buyers. In many cases, they never materialized, but the company held on consumers’ money for months before telling them. Then, after not delivering the promised tickets, TicketsNow failed to fully refund (!!!) the heavily marked-up fees.
As part of the settlement, Ticketmaster must now issue refunds to the duped fans. Although the company admits no wrongdoing, it must send letters to major ticket resellers demanding more transparency in business practices.
After getting dumped by its parent company and the expiration of an exclusive deal to ticket Live Nation events last year (around the time of the Springsteen debacle), Ticketmaster was hemorrhaging money. Perhaps the recent merger with the concert promoter will be a good thing for fans, as Ticketmaster now won’t have to engage in dubious business practices in an effort to keep its bottom line afloat.