Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D) of New Jersey has asked the FTC and the Justice Department to investigate the relationship between Ticketmaster and its reseller website, TicketsNow, after consumers who tried to buy Bruce Springsteen tickets encountered technical problems that prevented purchase, and were then redirected to TicketsNow where prices were “hundreds of dollars above face value” (actually, more like “thousands of dollars,” based on our check just a few minutes ago).
Update: Bruce Springsteen speaks out against the Ticketmaster/TicketsNow stunt, and reminds everyone why a Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger would be very bad. We’ve reprinted his letter below.
“I am troubled by how quickly tickets priced exponentially higher became available on the secondary market to thousands of rejected fans, many who also endured unfortunate technical problems on Ticketmaster.com,” Pascrell said in a letter to U.S. investigators.
The real problem, beyond the eternal nuisance of scalping, is that TicketsNow began offering overpriced tickets almost immediately after they went on sale through Ticketmaster, and while Ticketmaster apparently lacked the technology to handle what should have been a predictable surge in customers, that was not a problem for TicketsNow resellers:
“There is a significant potential for abuse when one company is able to monopolize the primary market for a product and also directly manipulate and profit from the secondary market,” [Pascrell] wrote. “The speed with which tickets were made available on Ticketmaster’s official resale site raises questions about whether TicketsNow brokers were given preferential treatment.”
About 30,000 tickets to the two Izod Center shows were sold in a little over an hour Monday morning. Many fans said they encountered error messages at the Ticketmaster website that prevented them from purchasing tickets before they were sold out.
Others were outraged that within minutes of the sale, hundreds of tickets were being hawked at TicketsNow.
“This burns me up. It’s reprehensible,” Pascrell said. “There has to be a deal cooking between the two companies, Ticketmaster and TicketsNow. One has no tickets and the other is selling them at three and four times the (original) price.”
Nefarious under the table scheming? Incompetence? Whatever the explanation, we’re sure if Ticketmaster and Live Nation merge then all of these problems will go away.
Here’s the letter posted to Bruce Springsteen’s official website today:
A LETTER TO OUR FANS:
We know there was much confusion regarding Ticketmaster and TicketsNow during last Monday’s on-sale dates. We were as confused as you were, as we were given no advance notice of the major changes in the Ticketmaster-TicketsNow world. (Bear in mind that we are not clients of any ticketing company, and that all those arrangements are between venues and ticketing companies.)
Last Monday, we were informed that Ticketmaster was redirecting your log-in requests for tickets at face value, to their secondary site TicketsNow, which specializes in up-selling tickets at above face value. They did this even when other seats remained available at face value. We condemn this practice.
We perceive this as a pure conflict of interest. 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.
We know the many cynical arguments some make in favor of the Ticketmaster system: There are rumors that some artists or managers participate in Ticketmaster charges—we do not. There are rumors that some artists or managers are receiving a percentage of the amount above face value at secondary outlets like TicketsNow—we do not. Some artists or managers may not perceive there to be a conflict between having the distributor of their tickets in effect “scalping” those same tickets through a secondary company like TicketsNow—we do.
While many of you have sent notes to us and your local promoters, you may also send accurate informational letters to Albert Lopez of Ticketmaster and he will try to address your questions.
A final point for now: the one thing that would make the current ticket situation even worse for the fan than it is now would be Ticketmaster and Live Nation coming up with a single system, thereby returning us to a near monopoly situation in music ticketing. Several newspapers are reporting on this story right now. If you, like us, oppose that idea, you should make it known to your representatives.
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.
Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and the entire Springsteen Tour Team
“Springsteen Sellout Leads to Call for Probe of Ticketmaster” [Bloomberg]
“Lawmaker: Investigate Springsteen ticket sales” [NJ.com](Thanks to everyone who sent this in!)