Ticketmaster Settles Springsteen-Sparked Attorney General Probe
Nearly a month after a controversial ticket on-sale for Bruce Springsteen's upcoming North American tour, Ticketmaster Entertainment has reached a national settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General in which the ticketing company has agreed to alter some of its business practices and pay $350,000 to cover fees associated with the investigation.
As part of the settlement, the ticketing company will stop linking customers to its secondary ticketing site, TicketsNow, for at least one year. Following that, "Ticketmaster will need prior approval from the Attorney General for any links between its 'No Tickets Found' Internet page to its TicketsNow re-sale website," according to a statement from the office of New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram.
Ticketmaster has also confirmed that all tickets it receives for general public on-sales will be sold on its primary Web site, and that tickets will not be sold or offered on TicketsNow until the initial on-sale begins on its primary site. Additionally, Ticketmaster will not use paid Internet advertising that leads customers searching for "Ticketmaster" on search engines to TicketsNow.
As previously reported, in the days following his Feb. 2 on sale, Springsteen and his manager Jon Landau, blasted Ticketmaster for redirecting fans attempting to buy the artist's concert tickets to TicketsNow. Fans trying to make face-value purchases for Springsteen tickets were instead sent to TicketsNow, "even when other seats remained available at face value," said a letter posted on BruceSpringsteen.net. "We condemn this
"We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest," the post continued. "Ticketmaster is there to ensure that we have a good, fair sale of our tickets at their face value plus normal ticketing charges. TicketsNow is supposed to be a secondary site where people who already have
tickets may exchange, trade, and, unfortunately, speculate with them. We have asked this redirection from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow cease and desist immediately and Ticketmaster has agreed to do so in the future and has removed its unwanted material from their and our site."
Ticketmaster CEO Irving Azoff responded with a public apology while skirting the issue of conflict of interest, but the New Jersey Attorney General's office had already launched the investigation.
Milgram announced today (Feb. 23) that the settlement calls for Ticketmaster to run a lottery that will make 2,000 tickets available at face value to fans who purchased ducats to Springsteen's May 21 and 23 concerts at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority will conduct the random drawing, and all Ticketmaster fees and service charges for those tickets will be waived.
According to the settlement, Ticketmaster will refund customers who in the first five hours of the Springsteen on sale were redirected to TicketsNow and purchased tickets at a higher price. Ticketmaster has also agreed to complete transactions and provide tickets to customers
whose credit cards were charged for ducats but never received them because of technical problems with the company's Web site.
New Jersey customers who filed complaints but are not chosen in the drawing will receive a $100 gift certificate from Ticketmaster. They will also be given the chance to purchase two tickets to a future Springsteen concert in New Jersey prior to a general on sale.
"This settlement swiftly and fairly resolves a significant issue for thousands of loyal Springsteen fans in the Garden State who believe that Ticketmaster tilted the playing field against their efforts to purchase tickets to the May concerts,'' Milgram said in a statement.
"Everyone deserves an equal chance to buy tickets on a primary ticket selling website and shouldn't be steered to a re-selling website where the prices can be substantially higher."