Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster Heats Up

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A class action lawsuit filed against Ticketmaster is picking up steam as registered members of the site were issued court-ordered notices late last week explaining how they may be entitled to a partial refund.

The lawsuit, filed originally in 2003 by California residents Curt Schlesinger and Peter Lo Re, challenges Ticketmaster’s Order Processing Fee, a charge the company issues for buying tickets through its service. It also disputes the fee charged to have purchased tickets delivered to your house by UPS. The argument essentially is that the processing fee is superfluous and the delivery fee is inflated.

“Plaintiffs assert that Ticketmaster’s Order Processing Fee is deceptive and leads consumers to believe that it represents Ticketmaster’s costs to process their orders, and that the Order Processing Fee is just a profit component for Ticketmaster, unrelated to the costs of processing the orders,” the lawsuit reads, before alleging “Ticketmaster substantially marks-up the amount it actually pays to UPS.”

U.S. residents who purchased tickets using the ticket seller from Oct. 21, 1999 through May 31, 2010 are eligible to participate in the suit. The legal team behind the suit has set up a website where eligible consumers can join or elect to be excluded from the suit.

Should they win, the plaintiffs are asking that  “the Court to award appropriate relief,” which includes requiring that Ticketmaster repay each member any money spent on the disputed fees. A non-jury trial date has been set for Jan. 26, 2011.  

Ticketmaster, for its part, is refuting both charges and does not believe the fees are deceptive.  Interestingly, it did amend how it presented its ticket pricing and fees back in August. Consumers can now view the full price of a ticket prior to checkout, as opposed to after placing an order.

“The reality of the live entertainment business is that service fees have become an extension of the ticket price,” Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard explained in a company blog post. “The problem is that historically we haven’t told you how much you have to pay for a given seat until very late in the buying process.”

“Going forward, just like almost every other business in the world, we’ll tell you up front how much you can expect to pay for a certain ticket,” Hubbard wrote.

Consumers may not like Ticketmaster’s additional charges, but that doesn’t always stop them from buying tickets to a big event. Check out this MainStreet article that examines why we pay for convenience.

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