Ticketmaster, FTC Settle Springsteen Ticket Fiasco

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Federal Trade Commission calls "deceptive tactics" by routing Bruce Springsteen fans to secondary-ticket retailer TicketsNow when regular-priced tickets were still available, the FTC and Ticketmaster (now part of Live Nation Entertainment) reached a settlement today. Initially, Ticketmaster blamed a "glitch" for their error, but in a statement the FTC notes that similar incidents occurred as far back as October 2008. Under the settlement, Ticketmaster promised to refund ticket buyers the difference between the regular cost of the tickets and the higher price they paid through TicketsNow. The FTC also warned Ticketmaster, TicketsNow and secondary-ticket sites to not mislead consumers in the future.

The Springsteen ticket fiasco, which drew sharp reactions from fans, politicians and Bruce himself, was cited as one of the chief concerns against the now-approved merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation. "The abuse of our fans and our trust by Ticketmaster has made us as furious as it has made many of you," Springsteen wrote on his official Website after news of the incident emerged. "We will continue to do our utmost now and in the future to make sure that these practices are permanently curtailed on our tours."

The settlement also addressed TicketsNow's oversold Springsteen concert at Washington, DC's Verizon Center in May 2009, after which some buyers were never reimbursed for tickets they didn't receive because of the error. "TicketsNow.com sold phantom tickets without letting consumers know that the tickets did not exist. Then, the company held onto consumers' money, sometimes for months, when it knew those fans weren't going to see Springsteen," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. "Clearly consumers deserve better. They deserve to know what they're buying, including the risk that their tickets won't materialize." The FTC criticized Ticketmaster for that scandal, but didn't issue much else other than a warning not to do it again.

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