Ticketmast Class Action Over Scalper Action

Earlier this week, the Toronto Star revealed an investigation that Ticketmaster allows use of a web-based tool called Trade Desk to allow scalpers to conduct resales online. The practice effectively provides Ticketmaster a second commission on verified resales,

Reporters from the Star and CBC attended the ticket scalpers conference in Vegas undercover because media were not allowed into sessions where the collaboration between Ticketmaster and scalpers was to be discussed. For months, Ticketmaster has declined interview requests to address these issues. After attending the conference, the Star and the CBC gave Ticketmaster an opportunity to review what their sales people had said and comment. They declined.

This finding is important because the company uses strict purchasing limits to prevent scalpers from using bots to purchase large numbers of tickets, and their terms of use prohibit customers from exceeding set limits for events. The company has also publicly criticized scalpers and called for greater regulation, while appearing to create a system that prefers scalpers over the general public.

The company was already facing legal challenges in Canada from the Competition Bureau over the use of drip pricing, where an online retailer headlines a price at the start of a purchase, which then adds unavoidable and incrementally disclosed addition of fees, taxes, and additional charges. The hearing before the Competition Bureau is expected in Ottawa in October 8-25, 2019.A 2014 U.S. Federal Trade Commission settlement over misleading advertising targeted techniques that appeared to provide event tickets from a primary seller at face value, but were often resale tickets at a higher value than expected. 

Civil lawsuits have also been in the works, with a class action launched in January 2018 over the drip pricing practices. The investigation this week has led to an announcement yesterday that this class action will be expanded to target the professional reseller programs described here as well.

Ticketmaster also faced a 2008 Privacy Commissioner of Canada finding that they contravened the openness and consent principles of PIPEDA, given the long and convoluted privacy policy that was in place. Assistant Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham recommended that the policy be revised to be more open about the practices around personal information, and the lack of an opt-out mechanism made consent to disclosure of personal information an inappropriate condition of service.

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