In recent years, there has been growing frustration and anger amongst consumers over some of Ticketmaster’s business practices. This has led many to ask: is there a class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster? While no major class action has been filed yet, there are signs that one could happen in the near future.
What are the main complaints against Ticketmaster?
Here are some of the top issues that consumers have with Ticketmaster:
- High fees – Ticketmaster is notorious for tacking on high “convenience” and “processing” fees to ticket purchases. These fees can often add 30% or more to the base ticket price. Many feel these fees are excessive and exploitative.
- Misleading pricing – Critics accuse Ticketmaster of engaging in “bait-and-switch” tactics by advertising low ticket prices upfront only to add exorbitant fees at checkout. Many feel this practice is deceptive.
- Captive market – Ticketmaster enjoys a near monopoly in the primary ticket sales market after merging with Live Nation in 2010. This lack of competition allows Ticketmaster to charge high fees.
- Difficulty obtaining refunds – Customers report Kafkaesque experiences when trying to obtain ticket refunds from Ticketmaster for canceled or rescheduled events.
In essence, many consumers think Ticketmaster takes advantage of its dominant market position to charge excessive fees and provide poor customer service.
Have there been any lawsuits against Ticketmaster before?
Yes, Ticketmaster has faced a few lawsuits over its controversial business practices in the past, including:
- In 2003, Ticketmaster paid $18 million to settle a California lawsuit that accused them of violating antitrust laws by acquiring a rival ticketing company.
- In 2019, Ticketmaster paid $6 million as part of a class action settlement over deceptive UPS fees it charged on ticket orders.
- Also in 2019, Ticketmaster lost a case brought by Songkick and paid $110 million in damages for improperly using confidential data from a licensing deal.
While these lawsuits put some pressure on Ticketmaster, none directly challenged the core of its ticketing business model. As such, critics argue past suits have done little to compel Ticketmaster to lower fees or improve customer service in a meaningful way.
What are the grounds for a new class action suit?
There are a few angles that any potential new class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster could pursue:
- Deceptive fees – Ticketmaster could be sued for advertising ticket prices upfront that are much lower than the final amount paid once fees are added. This arguably constitutes false advertising and a bait-and-switch scam.
- Anticompetitive practices – Ticketmaster controls around 70% of the primary ticket sales market. A class action could accuse them of monopolistic practices that harm consumers, building on past antitrust lawsuits.
- Unfair contract terms – The terms and conditions Ticketmaster imposes on ticket buyers could be legally challenged as unfair, unreasonable, and overly restrictive.
- Violations of ticket resale laws – Some states have laws restricting how much tickets can be resold for over face value. Ticketmaster owns resale sites like TicketExchange which could violate these laws.
Are there any efforts to organize a new class action suit?
Currently there are no major ongoing efforts to consolidate consumer grievances against Ticketmaster into an impactful nationwide class action lawsuit. However, some possible foundations for such a suit have emerged recently:
- In 2018, Ticketmaster had to pay $396 million in damages to Canadian consumers after a class action suit over deceptive pricing tactics.
- A fan initiative called Citizens Against Ticketmaster Greed has been calling for a U.S. class action suit and greater government regulation of Ticketmaster.
- Some state-level suits over ticket resale price caps have put pressure on Ticketmaster’s subsidiary resale sites.
So while the wheels are slowly turning, more consumer organizing and legal wrangling seems necessary before a major class action suit directly challenging Ticketmaster’s fees and market control becomes a reality.
What are the chances a class action lawsuit would succeed?
It’s hard to predict the chances of success for a hypothetical Ticketmaster class action lawsuit before one is even filed. But looking at previous suits against the company as well as the grievances commonly lodged by consumers, some expectations can be made:
- A case focused narrowly on deceptive fees may have a good chance, given past court wins in Canada over the same issue.
- An antitrust case would face much tougher odds, given Ticketmaster’s dominance of the market and its past mergers.
- Cases targeting specific contract terms, refund policies or state ticket laws could gain some traction.
- The greatest chance of success would require synthesized claims attacking deceptive practices, monopolistic power, and contractual unfairness together.
Ticketmaster also has vast legal resources and has fought and endured major suits before without seeing any drastic changes to its core business. So any class action would likely face an uphill legal battle and need overwhelming public support behind it.
What could a successful class action accomplish?
If a class action suit against Ticketmaster did gain traction, what might it accomplish? Possible outcomes could include:
- Financial payouts to ticket buyers – Previous suits obtained settlements worth $10s of millions for past ticket purchasers.
- Injunction against deceptive fees – Could force Ticketmaster to advertise full ticket prices upfront.
- Fairer terms and conditions – Make Ticketmaster’s user agreements less onesided.
- Easier avenues for refunds – Create standards for reimbursing consumers if events get cancelled.
- Limits on Ticketmaster’s market dominance – Potentially compel divestment of some subsidiaries, etc.
- Ongoing legal oversight – Place checks and consumer protections on Ticketmaster’s practices.
However, given Ticketmaster’s entrenched position, even a successful suit may only result in modest reforms rather than wholesale changes to their business model. But it could apply pressure and gain some important concessions for consumers.
Growing consumer frustration over Ticketmaster’s fees and services has led many to call for a class action lawsuit against the company. While no major suit has materialized yet, there is legal precedent and mounting public pressure for regulatory action. The most viable case would likely combine claims of deceptive pricing, antitrust violations, and unfair terms. While challenging Ticketmaster’s dominance would be difficult, such a suit may at least achieve modest reforms and relief for consumers if successful.
The public anger towards Ticketmaster is unlikely to dissipate anytime soon. Thus some form of large-scale legal challenge seems increasingly inevitable. Time will tell if a bold class action can take advantage of this sentiment and finally hold Ticketmaster legally accountable for its longstanding monopolistic practices.