In late September, a joint CBC News and Toronto Star investigation revealed allegations that Ticketmaster has been utilizing scalpers to get more money out of consumers through resales. While undercover at Ticket Summit 2018, a Las Vegas convention, reporters recorded Ticketmaster representatives stating that the company does not strictly monitor their site for scalpers and that they actually allow scalpers to scoop up blocks of tickets from the site. This arrangement essentially allows Ticketmaster to get two cuts out of the same ticket – through the initial ticket fee as well as through resale fees when the ticket is resold at an inflated price. This is contrary to Ticketmaster’s policy setting limits on the number of tickets a customer may buy for any one event.
In fact, Ticketmaster has allegedly developed its own web-based inventory management system called TradeDesk which simplifies the process for resellers by allowing them to quickly upload large quantities of tickets. Though Ticketmaster has a buyer division that is supposed to look out for scalper activity, the employee recorded at the Las Vegas convention claimed that TradeDesk does not share any information with this division.
Since the report, Ticketmaster customer Allen Lee has filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment in the California Northern District Court, alleging “unlawful and unfair business practices” and “unjust enrichment.” Lee is seeking certification for a class action lawsuit, where the class of plaintiffs is defined as, “All end user purchasers in the United States who purchased a secondary market Ticketmaster ticket from a professional reseller participating in Ticketmaster’s resale partner program and/or using TradeDesk or a similar system operated by defendants, such as EventInventory or eimarketplace.” The complaint, filed on September 28, 2018, requests a jury trial and is now being reassigned to a District Judge.
Ticketmaster President Jared Smith has denied any claims of wrongdoing – “Let me be absolutely clear and definitive that Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any program or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of fans. Period.”
Katherine Khazal is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2021).