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Ticketmaster hopes to have touting cases dismissed because of its terms and conditions

By | Published on Wednesday 5 December 2018

Ticketmaster

Live Nation’s Ticketmaster is hoping to get to a class action lawsuit over its secondary ticketing operations in the US dismissed. It’s doing so by citing terms and conditions on its website that the plaintiffs almost certainly never read but definitely accepted with a simple click.

American ticket-buyer Allen Lee sued Ticketmaster earlier this year just as the Live Nation company was dealing with the fallout of a Toronto Star and CBC exposé on its ticket resale business in North America. That report showed a rep for Ticketmaster’s TradeDesk product – an inventory management platform for ticket resellers – suggesting that the company had deliberately slack policies regarding bulk purchases on its primary ticketing sites so to aid the touts that it did business with via its ticket resale platforms.

While Ticketmaster has bailed on secondary ticketing entirely in Europe, it is still very much operating in the resale business Stateside by providing platforms and services to touts. Nevertheless, since the Toronto Star/CBS report, Ticketmaster’s US President Jared Smith has been very busy trying to argue that his company does in fact go above and beyond to stop touts hoovering up large quantities of tickets from its primary sites, while adding that its TradeDesk product has been widely misrepresented in the press.

In his lawsuit, Lee alleges that Ticketmaster exploits consumers by being involved in both the primary and secondary ticketing business. His lawsuit claims that the ticketing company “accepts kickbacks for secretly facilitating a shortage of its product and then a sale by a third party at a higher price. Ticketmaster does this in order to receive a second cut on tickets that is even more than the original cut Ticketmaster receives”.

A lawyer working for Lee said at the time the lawsuit was filed: “We believe that Ticketmaster’s highly controlled black market scheme to receive kickbacks from illicit secondary ticket sales violating its own terms of use constitutes unjust enrichment, and we intend to fight for the rights of anyone who has overpaid for tickets originally sold by Ticketmaster through a secondary ticket resale site involved in its scheme”.

All of which Smith and his Ticketmaster team would presumably deny. Though in the short term, the ticketing firm is trying to get Lee’s case – and another filed by a ticket-buyer called Mahmoud Ameri – dismissed, or at least stayed, on a technicality.

The ticketing firm argues that the terms and conditions on its website clearly state that “any dispute or claim relating in any way to your use of the site, or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through us, will be resolved by binding arbitration rather than in court”.

That means that aggrieved customers must take their grievances to Ticketmaster’s chosen independent arbitrator – a company called JAMS – rather than a court of law. Once in arbitration – a process designed to be cheaper, quicker and more private than a court case – any dispute would follow the procedure set out in America’s Federal Arbitration Act.

In a legal filing last week, Ticketmaster went to great lengths to show just how many times Smith and Ameri would have been alerted of the company’s terms and conditions as they set up an account, browsed the site and bought their tickets. And while neither buyer might have ever clicked through to read said terms, they were prompted to do so on multiple occasions, and in bold light blue text too.

Having pasted in various screengrabs showing all the bold light blue links to Ticketmaster’s ts+cs, the legal filing then includes the full term regarding arbitration, which concludes with the line “you agree to waive any right to a jury trial or to participate in a class action”.

Ticketmaster then states that legislation and precedent both “require that federal courts ‘rigorously enforce agreements to arbitrate'”. To that end it wants the court to dismiss both the touting cases, or at least put them on hold until any arbitration process has been completed.

It remains to be seen if the courts do indeed enforce an arbitration term that few Ticketmaster customers will have ever read but which is definitely there.



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