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Ticketmaster Scam?


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I just wanted to share what I experienced with Ticketmaster yesterday. I believe it's illegal activity, but I'm still looking into it to find out for sure.

I went to buy Van Halen tickets for Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City , NJ as I'll be staying there nearer the time. They had four price points on the tickets. I saw VH before with DLR, so I just wanted to get in the door and get tickets in one of the lowest two price points. I got online as soon as they went on sale and both of the lowest two price points were coming up as unavailable. I was getting tickets for several people who really wanted to go so I ended up going to the next price level. There were plenty of tickets available, so I bought them. I went back on Ticketmaster 30 minutes later, and there were a lot of tickets available in the lower two prices points. I called TM to complain about that and attempt to exchange my tickets for the lower priced ones. They said they could only exchange up and not down, so they couldn't help me as I agreed to all their policies, which include no refunds or downward exchanges, at the time of purchase. At that point I accused them of illegal, bait-and-switch business practices for holding back the less expensive tickets until the more expensive ones were sold out. They actually admitted that they did this and said they were told to do it by the promoter. The phone call ended with no remedy to the situation and some profanity.

I was pretty angry about the situation and convinced that this is illegal. I left messages for the Department of Justice and the CEO of Live Nation (they own Ticketmaster). About an hour later I got a call back from a national Ticketmaster office. We went through exactly what happened, and they again admitted that they purposely held the lower price tickets back until the more expensive ones were sold. They ended up refunding me the entire price of the tickets, and I ended up going back online and getting the lower priced tickets (better seats as well).

So I'm still waiting to hear whether or not this is illegal. I'm hearing different things in different places, but I'll find out for sure tomorrow when the correct offices for these types of inquiries are open.

At the very least I'm hoping the people here will read this and know that this practice goes on.

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Ok, so here's the update. I formally filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. They took all of the information and at the end of the conversation, I told them that ultimately someone from Ticketmaster did call me back and refund the cost of the tickets so that I could purchase the lesser expensive tickets. I expected them to tell me they weren't going to file anything since the issue was resolved, but their exact reply was, "That's not really the point, is it?" So it at least sounds like they are taking it seriously.

I also got a phone call back from Live Nation's CEO's office. They seemed genuinely offended that this happened. I'm not sure if they were offended that it happened or that one of their employees actually admitted that they did this purposely, but either way, they sounded upset. They took all of my information, including the ticket order numbers involved.

I guess we'll see if anything actually comes out of all of this. I'll post updates as I have them.

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