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Ticketmaster settled with the state of New Jersey to resolve more than 2,000 complaints over the company’s mishandling of ticket sales to see Bruce Springsteen concerts, the New Jersey attorney general’s office said on Monday. According to Attorney General Anna Milgram, Ticketmaster has not admitted wrongdoing but has agreed to pay $350,000 to the state.
The uproar began on February 2, 2009, after tickets went on sale for the May 21 and May 23 shows of Springsteen’s Working on a Dream tour at East Rutherford’s Izod Center. During the online sales process, Ticketmaster’s website directed people seeking Bruce Springsteen tickets to a subsidiary, TicketsNow, that charged up to 50 times the face value of tickets. Indeed, people unable to buy Springsteen tickets at their face value of $65 or $95 were instead directed to tickets retailing from $200 to $5,000 at TicketsNow.
Under the terms of the New Jersey settlement, Ticketmaster will have a random drawing to choose 1,000 people who will each be allowed to buy two tickets for Springsteen concerts in New Jersey in May, and all Ticketmaster fees will be waived. The 1,000 people will be chosen from the more than 2,000 who complained about a variety of problems, including being told by Ticketmaster that the concert was sold out and then redirected to TicketsNow and offered more expensive tickets. The losers in the ticket-buying lottery will get a $100 gift certificate from Ticketmaster and be allowed to buy two tickets to a future Springsteen concert in New Jersey before they go on general sale.
Other Springsteen fans complained of problems such as being charged for tickets but not receiving them. Those who bought tickets on TicketsNow within five hours of when tickets went on sale will get a refund equal to the difference between what they paid and the ticket’s face value.
In response to his fans’ outcry over the misuse of ticket sales, Springsteen issued the following statement: “The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you. We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours.”
In what’s addressed as “An Open Letter of Apology to Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen Tour Team,” Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff says that the company decided to send some buyers to the company’s secondary-ticketing company TicketsNow in an attempt to put more tickets into the hands of Bruce Springsteen fans. “While we were genuinely trying to do the right thing for fans in providing more choices when the tickets they requested from the primary on-sale were not available, we clearly missed the mark,” Azoff writes.
Milgram says she plans to further investigate the resale market, largely dominated by ticket brokers who buy in bulk and resell at higher prices. “What is critical is that consumers understand what is happening on any Internet site during a sale of tickets,” Milgram said. “The [Ticketmaster] web site suggested that consumers could continue their search on TicketsNow, making it seem there was no difference in the two markets when, in fact, of course there is.”
– Julia Fenwick
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