dilluns, 2 de març de 2009

Potser ens ho hauriem de mirar... (de Blender)

David Byrne Denounces Ticketmaster, Predicts Huge Lawsuit
Posted 3/2/2009 11:15:00 AM by Rob Tannenbaum
Filed under: Canada, David Byrne, Jurisprudence, Ticketmaster

Add David Byrne to the list of rock stars who’ve spoken out against Ticketmaster.

Blender was at Byrne’s Radio City Music Hall concert on Saturday night when he announced, “I want to apologize to those of you who bought your tickets through TicketsNow. That’s a company that’s owned by Ticketmaster.”

Many in the crowd expressed their disgust at Ticketmaster, booing and shouting when Byrne mentioned the company, which has been nicknamed “TicketBastard” because of the substantial surcharges it adds above the stated costs of tickets.

Byrne then told the crowd about a class-action lawsuit filed in Canada against TicketsNow, which recently incensed Canadian fans for their handling of Leonard Cohen tickets, and against its parent company Ticketmaster. The lawsuit, he said, would be moving “south of the 49th parallel,” and he advised fans to hold on to their tickets or receipts so they would be able to join the lawsuit when it expands to the U.S.

The Canadian class-action suit is a clever piece of litigation: It charges Ticketmaster with violating Canada’s Ticket Speculation Act, which prohibits the sale of tickets for a price higher than the issued price. The law is effectively designed to prevent scalping, but class-action lawyers want it applied to TicketsNow, a scalping site Ticketmaster bought in 2008 for $265 million.

A lawyer for the class-action suit said it prompted an “overwhelming response.” Three days after filing the suit, the same law firm filed a separate, second charge against Ticketmaster, alleging illegal ticket surcharges. The plaintiff, an Edmonton, Alberta resident bought a ticket to see David Byrne via a Ticketmaster Web site. The ticket price was listed as $55.50 (in Canadian dollars) – but, in a story familiar to anyone who has patronized Ticketmaster, the plaintiff was charged a building fee, a convenience charge, and an order processing fee, raising the final cost to $71.75.

Combined, the two Canadian lawsuits seek $750 million in damages. If similar litigation is filed in the U.S., it could potentially seek billions of dollars in damages. (The Web site for the lawsuit is www.ticketmasterclassaction.com.)

Ticketmaster’s proposed merger with concert promotion behemoth Live Nation has prompted concern from the Justice Department and a Congressional inquiry. Although Ticketmaster chief Irving Azoff recently said the merger “can, should and will result in lower ticket prices in the primary market,” skeptics include members of Congress. Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia warned that “ticket prices will increase and consumers will be harmed by this merger.” And Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey called the merger "quite simply a bad deal for the American people,” adding, “Pretty soon, you won't be able to wash your hands at a concert without this company making a profit."

TicketsNow is a resale site, akin to eBay, that takes a commission each time people buy and sell tickets. In early February, Bruce Springsteen and manager Jon Landau condemned Ticketmaster after fans who visited the company’s Web site to buy tickets were redirected to TicketsNow, even though Ticketmaster still had a stock of seats at face value. Springsteen and Landau, Billboard reported, “also voiced outrage at the proposed merger between Ticketmaster and Live Nation, which they say would return concert ticketing ‘to a near monopoly.’”

Last month, in another gaffe that inflamed music fans, TicketsNow was selling Leonard Cohen concert tickets, at substantially higher prices, before they even went on official sale. CBC News reported, “Tickets with a face value of $99 to $250 were being sold on TicketsNow.com for between $568 to $856, plus a service of charge ranging from $85 to $128 per ticket.” And Live Nation’s ticketing system was unable to handle the first-day demand for an upcoming Phish reunion. Fans who logged on to buy tickets were often timed out while entering credit card information, and the company’s customer service phone lines didn’t work properly. For more insight into the debacle from angry fans, Google “Phish” + “Ticketmaster sucks.”