Live Nation face US class action
Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER   Following on from the CBC and Toronto Star’s investigation into the activities of Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division in the secondary ticketing market, a class action has been filed in the US alleging a breach of consumer laws. After publication of the story, Ticketmaster issued a statement to CBC News saying it was “categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets.” It also said it had already begun an internal review of professional reseller accounts and employee practices before the CBC News story came out. Ticketmaster recently announced that was closing it’s secondary ticketing business in Europe, shutting down the Seatwave and Get Me In platforms. This did not extend to the USA and Canada. Ticketmaster President Jared Smith was forced onto the back foot following the expose, but continues to  defend his company’s involvement in both primary and secondary ticketing, insisting that Ticketmaster’s ticket inventory management platform, TradeDesk, had been misrepresented and he stated in blog post: “Let me be absolutely clear and definitive that Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any program or product that helps professional resellers gain an advantage to buy tickets ahead of…

National Trading Standards takes action over alleged ticket touting
Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER   The UK’s National Trading Standards authority has begun legal action against nine alleged ticket touts on chargesof money laundering and breaches of consumer rights law following an investigations. The nine are split between three secondary ticketing organisations – Connoco, BZZ and Ticket Queen. National Trading Standards is one of two UK government agencies that have been investigating the secondary ticketing market and compliance with consumer rights law, including the specific ticket resale regulations introduced by the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. The Competition & Markets Authority focused on the main ticket resale platforms including Seatwave, Get Me In, StubHub and (in particular) Viagogo. National Trading Standards has investigated individuals and companies using thise platforms to re-sell tickjets. The accused include Timothy Connor, who has been charged alongside his girlfriend and his parents (they are ‘Connoco’), and who allegedly used multiple names, addresses, credit cards and bespoke “sophisticated browser software” to acquire substantial numbers of tickets from primary ticketing sites. NTS say that, between June 2015 and December 2017, together they bought £2.3 million in tickets which they resold for £4.5 million. At a hearing at York Magistrates Court, the defendants indicated they would enter a not guilty plea. Two other defendants, Peter…

The Viagogo soap opera trundles on
Competition , Consumers , Contract / October 2018

CONTRACT / CONSUMER / COMPETITION   Hardly a day passes without Viagogo hitting the headlines, with news breaking that the Geneva based  secondary ticketing had finally complied with the Advertising Standards Authority’s demands on how it presented pricing information, that Viagogo had pulled out of a planned Culture Select Committee Parliamentary debate on secondary ticketing, that it was moving the firm’s London based business to New York, and that it was itself tacking legal action in Germany against promoter Kilimanjaro Live and its boss Stuart Gailbraith over the promoters decision to cancel thousands of re-sold and touted tickets on a 2017 Ed Sheerhan tour. Viagogo’s usually silent PR department set up a Twitter account to comment on the German litigation, alleging that Kilimanjaro boss “Stuart Galbraith duped Ed Sheeran fans by confiscating thousands of genuine tickets at the gate, forcing fans to buy new tickets and pocketing millions of pounds in duplicate sales”. As a result, it said, it was now suing the promoter “for defrauding thousands of fans out of several million pounds on Ed Sheeran’s recent tour”. The resale firm alleges that Kilimanjaro set up Victims Of Viagogo booths at Sheeran’s shows. This meant it was the fans on the night who…

New York Attorney General faces lawsuits over ticket actions
Competition , Consumers / October 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION The acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is facing two lawsuits from the Connecticut based ticketing companies TicketNetwork and Ticket Galaxy in what they say is a response to a “deeply flawed interpretation of New York State Law” on the resale of event tickets. The new Attorney General (NYAG) after she announced plans to sue for millions of dollars to prevent the site listing tickets sellers do not yet own. With both companies saying they have fully co-operated with a two year investigation into the re-sale market by the office of the NYAG,, they are now seeking a declaratory judgement in New York’s Supreme Court regarding the lawful sale of tickets not yet in the seller’s possession. Ticket resale prior to ownership of the ticket is specifically allowed in the state of New York – a two-year extension of the existing law with some revisions that specifically addressed this practice was passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. A press release from TicketNetwork reads: “Through this lawsuit, the Company is seeking the Court’s conclusive affirmance for its position that it operates in full compliance with all applicable regulations, and that the NYAG has no basis…

Viagogo faces more problems in the UK market

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has indicated that it will take action against Viagogo, the online secondary ticketing site. CMA announced last year that it has secondary ticketing sites in is sights. That was last year, and this week the CMA has stated that a number of secondary ticketing sites, namely StubHub, GetMeIn! and Seatwave had updated their policies to ensure that seat numbers and seller’s identity will be provided and will even include ‘health warnings’ about the possibility of event promoters cancelling tickets sold without permission and in breach of terms on the secondary market. Not so Viagogo.   The executive director for enforcement of the CMA, Michael Grenfell, said “We welcome the changes already made and new commitments we’ve been given by StubHub, Seatwave and GetMeIn! to improve the information on offer, so that people can better judge whether they’re getting a good deal”… “But all secondary ticketing websites must play by the rules and treat their customers fairly if anything goes wrong. We take failure to comply with consumer protection law very seriously”.   Switzerland based Viagogo has not been compliant with the CMA’s requests. In fact, Grenfall explained “So far…

Viagogo fined one million Euros by Italian competition regulator

CONSUMER/COMPETITION Live events sector   Viagogo has been fined one million Euros by the Italian competition (antitrust) agency, AGCM, for failling to comply with instructions issued by the agency in April 2017. At the time, Viagogo and three other resale sites were fined a collective €700,000 for failing to provide complete ticket information to consumers   According to Pollstar, AGCM found that Viagogo misled customers by not making original ticket prices and the location of seats sold easily known in violation of articles 20, 21 and 22 of the Italian consumer code. AGCM told Viagogo to fix the discrepancy within sixty days, and the resale site agreed to indicate the face value price and seat number on its platform.   This it seems Viagogo have not done so, and AGCM says that it has received numerous complaints from both consumers and consumer associates about the site’s failure to rectify this situation. AGCM has now imposed a fine of one million Euros on the company. Viagogo can appeal the decision to the Lazio Regional Administrative Court in Rome.   Although a set back for Viagogo, they may yet prevail: CTS Eventim’s TicketOne recently successfully appealed a €1m fine in Italy, for allegedly passing…

ASA clamps down on the secondary ticketing platforms
Competition , Consumers / April 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s four main secondary ticketing agencies have been banned from using certain “misleading” price strategies. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said they had not been clear enough about extra fees added at the end of the booking. The four largest sites are Get Me In, Viagogo, StubHub and Seatwave. The action, comes after widespread concern from consumers, some politcians and industry groups such as the Fanfair Alliance, and seeks to ensure that advertisers are upfront about booking and delivery fees at the end of the process, which can drastically affected pricing. The ASA have also demanded that Viagogo stops using the words “official site” and “100% Guarantee” as it could not guarantee entry. . Concert promoters may use contract terms in the sale of tickets to cancel touted tickets meaning tickets bought on Viagogo could not guarantee entry. The ASA’s chief executive, Guy Parker, said: “Many of us will recognise the frustration of being happy with the initial price of tickets on a secondary website only to be stung by hefty fees when we come to book” and “The message from our rulings is simple and it’s clear: The price you see at the start should be the…

New UK rules introduced to protect consumers against ticket touting
Competition , Consumers / March 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   The UK’s Consumer Minister Andrew Griffiths has announced the implementation of a number of new rules to regulate the online secondary ticketing marketplace, although readers of this blog will note that some of these are already law, coming into force after amendments were made to the 2015 Consumer Rights Act by MPs Sharon Hodgson and Mike Weatherley. That Act also instigated the Waterson Report on the ticketing marketplace.  In a statement the Department For Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said: “Fans of live events are set to benefit from new rules which will demand more information from sellers on secondary ticket websites. Under the new rules, which will come into force in April 2018, ticket resellers will be required to provide purchasers with additional detailed information about tickets including the location of seats, disclosure of any restrictions and the original price of the ticket itself”. However, Griffiths’s announcement does provide some clarity on exactly what ticket restrictions must be declared when a tout is touting. Also, there is a new obligation to provide the unique ticket number (UTN) of any ticket being resold where it is numbered (meaning a show promoter could cancel that ticket if…

Will Australia ban secondary ticketing?
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / March 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   Following on from the introduction of tough anti-touting laws in the state of New South Wales last year, Australia’s federal government is considering a nationwide ban on the re-sale of tickets in some circumstances.   According to Australia’s Daily Telegraph, the country’s government is considering five possible options to legislate in the market for the resale of tickets. One of those options is to completely outlaw the re-selling of tickets by anyone other than primary outlets.   The government’s Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, told the newspaper that the aim of any proposed legislation would be to benefit consumers, saying: “I expect consumers should always get a fair deal when purchasing tickets for events and to access all available tickets on the market. While we are still working to properly address these problems, Australians can be assured that we will do all that is necessary to protect them from any unfair or unscrupulous practices”.   In October last year, the New South Wales government passed an amendment to its Fair Trading Act, banning the selling of tickets at anything more than 10% of their face value. Substantial fines were put in place as…

Ticketmaster faces Canadian action against over hidden price hikes
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / February 2018

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   Live Nation’s Ticketmaster is facing legal action from Canada’s Competition Bureau, which has announced that it is taking action against the entertainment giant for allegedly misleading consumers on the pricing for sports and other ticketed events after an investigation found that advertised prices were deceptive because consumers would be forced to pay additional fees which are added later in the purchasing process, which is referred to as “drip pricing.” An investigation found that Ticketmaster’s fees often inflated the prices of a ticket by more than 20 percent, although in some instances this went up to 65 percent of the price consumers pay. The Competition Bureau has requested the Competition Tribunal put an end to the deceptive marketing practices and subject the Live Nation-owned company to a financial penalty. Commissioner of Competition John Pecman said in a statement: “In July, we called on ticket vendors to review their marketing practices. Today, we are filing an application with the [Competition] Tribunal to stop Ticketmaster from making deceptive claims to consumers” adding “Together, these actions send a strong signal to online retailers: consumers must have confidence that advertised prices are the ones they will pay.”  In response, Ticketmaster issued a…

New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit Over Cancelled Buffalove Festival
Consumers , Live Events / January 2018

CONSUMER Live events sector   The Attorney General for New York has filed a lawsuit against concert promoter Cody Conway who allegedly cancelled the Buffalove event without refunding customers nearly $15,000. State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against Conway and the Buffalove Music Festival. Schneiderman is accusing Conway of canceling the three-day Franklinville, New York, festival two weeks before it was scheduled to begin on July 20 and failing to refund 146 customers who bought tickets from $85 to $125 a piece for a combined $14,896.42. The investigation was led by James M. Morrissey and Erica Law with help from Michael Russo and Marty Mack: A statement read “New Yorkers should get what they pay for – and they’re entitled to timely refunds if event organizers don’t follow through on their promises,” and Schneiderman said in the release. “My office won’t tolerate scammers who trick hardworking consumers into forking over cash for performances they’ll never see.” https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8062643/new-york-attorney-general-buffalove-festival-lawsuit-refunds

French regulator takes aim at Viagogo’s ‘deceptive’ practices
Consumers , Live Events / January 2018

CONSUMER Live events sector   In France, Viagogo has been ordered to change its “deceptive” sales and marketing practices in France by the Directorate-General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) which has taken injunctions out against Switzerland-based Viagogo and its Delaware-based division that operates viagogo.fr.   The DGCCRF said Viagogo must stop its misleading commercial practices within the meaning of Articles L.121-2 and L.121-4 of the Consumer Code. these practices include displaying prices that do not include add-on fees (so called ‘drip pricing’) and Viagogo must stop misleading consumers on the availability of the tickets offered. The DGCCRF added that the resale platform should also not resell tickets for subsidised events beyond their face value. The DGCCRF has not disclosed any potential punishment or deadline for Viagogo to comply, but the authority is empowered to fine companies which break French competition law. The resale of tickets without permission from the original seller is prohibited under French law, and Viagogo is believed to owe promoters’ association Prodiss some hundreds of thousands of Euros in fines.   The French Consumer Federation (FRC) had already lodged a criminal complaint with the Geneva Public Prosecutor against Viagogo accusing the company of breaching unfair competition…

Multiple moves against the ticket touts
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / January 2018

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   In August, the Vienna Commercial Court found that the fees on tickets sold via CTS’s oeticket website, which charges €2.50 for ‘print @ home’ and mobile tickets and €1.90 for those picked up from branches of Libro or oeticket’s own box offices fell foul of Austrian law. Now the Higher Regional Court of Vienna (Oberlandesgericht Wien, OLG) has also ruled against Eventim. VKI said that the OLG took particular exception to the fact oeticket does not offer a fee-free delivery option, leaving the consumer with no option but to pay them. And British consumer protection body National Trading Standards has made four arrests as part of its investigation into the business activities of large-scale secondary ticket sellers in the UK. In a separate investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority raided the London offices of StubHub and Viagogo. The new arrests are linked to alleged breaches of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which introduce a general prohibition against unfair commercial practices, specific prohibitions against misleading and aggressive practices and a blacklist of 31 practices that will be deemed unfair in all circumstances.    A National Trading Standards statement said “Officers from National Trading Standards conducted raids at a number of…

CTS Eventim’s acquisition of Four Artists blocked
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / December 2017

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Germany’s competition regulator has blocked CTS Eventim from acquiring Berlin-based booking agency Four Artists, citing concerns about the ticketing firm’s dominance in the country’s live industry. Among the artists represented by Four Artists are David Guetta, James Blunt, Chase & Status and Best Coast. Andreas Mundt, the President of Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) , said: “CTS Eventim is already the market leader in Germany and by far the largest ticket system. In addition, it has already integrated various tour operators into its group structure in the past” adding that the Four Artists acquisition “would strengthen CTS’s existing dominant position [in the ticketing market] thereby significantly hindering effective competition in the affected markets” explaining that “With Four Artists, CTS Eventim would integrate a major event organiser into its group, locking additional ticket allocations of between 500,000 and one million tickets per year to its own system”, it went on. “The expansion possibilities for competing ticket system providers would thereby be weakened”. The Bundeskartellamt said the CTS Eventim system distributes 60 to 70 per cent of all tickets sold in Germany via its systems. In contrast, most other providers are much smaller, and “in part…

CMA to take action over secondary ticketing abuses
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / December 2017

COMPETITION / CONSUMER Live events sector   Hot on the back of news that Google is updating its rules on how ticket-resellers can advertise on its search engine, meaning secondary ticketing platforms globally will have to be certified with Google before they can advertise using its AdWords platform (in turn promoting greater transparency), comes the announcement that the UK’s Competition And Markets Authority (CMA) will take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law following a long-running investigation – through the courts, if necessary. The CMA said it has gathered evidence, which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given. The CMA launched an “enforcement investigation” into secondary ticketing in December 2016. The CMA then said that it intended to “consider whether, in its view, both the businesses selling tickets and the secondary ticketing platforms advertising them are failing to provide the full range of information in breach of the law and, if so, take enforcement action”, responding to claims that the major re-sale platforms were ignoring transparency obligations laid out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. These include stating the face value of the tickets being sold, information on the…

Different jurisdictions take aim at the touts
Consumers , Live Events / November 2017

CONSUMER RIGHTS Live events sector   Live Nation owned Ticketmaster is taking legal action against two companies in the US, which the ticketing giant believes have used bot technology to buy up tickets for live shows. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ticketmaster has filed the lawsuit against Prestige Entertainment, Renaissance Ventures and two individuals over the use of bots to purchase tickets from its platform. Earlier this year, Prestige and Renaissance agreed to pay the majority of a $4.2 million settlement with New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and also agreed to stop using bots. Ticketmaster now says it has evidence that this agreement has been broken. “Ticketmaster has uncovered evidence that suggests Renaissance has already breached the agreement by continuing to utilise bots to purchase tickets offered by Ticketmaster”, says the lawsuit. It also says that the defendants have ignored cease and desist letters.   Anti-bot legislation is becoming more common, but New South Wales is leading the way with regulations to protect consumers and govern the re-sale of tickets with a a cap on a re-sale price not to exceed 110% of the original ticket price. The state’s Minister For Better Regulation Matt Kean had previously said  “I’m sick and tired of consumers being…

Foos fight the touts
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / October 2017

CONTRACT / CONSUMER Live events sector   Foo Fighters have risked a PR disaster by turning away fans who had brought tickets for their show at London’s September 19th O2 from secondary re-sellers. Whilst the band  apologised to fans who were turned away from the O2 Arena  buying tickets from the secondary sites they and promoters SJM Concerts said they had made it very clear at the point of sale that each buyer’s name was printed on each ticket for the show and that buyers would be required to show ID to prove it was their name on the ticket before being granted entry.    It was reported that 200 people were turned away at the doors. In a statement, the band said: “The Foo Fighters show that took place at The O2 last night had a strict ‘names on ticket’ policy. The stipulation that ID would be required for admittance to the show was clearly stated at the time of announcement and was explicitly noticed at the point of purchase”. The band added that a number of other measures to ensure that tickets were not resold by touts were also put in place adding “despite these requirements being in place, some purchasers listed…

Lords move to strengthen ticket re-sale transparency
Consumers , Live Events / May 2017

CONSUMER Live events sector   In the UK, the House of Lords has passed an amendment that anti-touting campaigners say will strengthen the position of consumers who use secondary ticketing sites. Whilst the UK government now supports the recommendations made in the Waterson report, an independent review which recommended no new legislation against secondary ticketing but did suggest proper enforcement of the existing Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015, the new amendment to the Digital Economy Bill is opposed by the government Despite the opposition, the Lords voted 180–157 in favour of the amendment, which would require sites such Seatwave, Get Me In!, StubHub and Viagogo to provide the ticket reference or booking number, as well as any specific condition attached to the resale of the ticket. Under the current legislation, secondary sites are already obliged to list the original face value, seat/row numbers and any usage restrictions.   Conservative peer Lord Moynihan, a former sports minister and Olympic rowing coxswain, said: “We do not want to ban the [secondary] market, although noble Lords did so for the Olympic Games in London 2012. Similarly, this is not about a cap on resale prices. It is perfectly within the conclusions [of], and the…

Australian law makers look to ban bots, whilst in the UK, Viagogo are a no show
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017

CONSUMER Live events sector     Lawmakers in Australia are also considering a nationwide ban on the software used by ticket touts to buy up large quantities of tickets for in-demand events from primary ticketing sites, using so called ‘bots’. In 2016 President Obama signed banning the use of ticket tout bots, while the UK government has now said it supports inserting a similar specific bots ban into Digital Economy Bill. In Australia, where touting (scalping) has traditionally been legislated for on a state by state basis, the Federal Senate has approved a motion introduced by independent senator Nick Xenophon calling on the country’s government to also ban bots. He is quoted by MusicFeeds as saying: “Genuine Australian fans are being unfairly deprived of tickets because ticket scalpers are using automated systems to buy a bulk of tickets when they are released. They’re then on-selling them for massive amounts to those that missed out. It’s a clear cornering of a market that hurts consumers”. In early March, Australian consumer watch organisation Choice revealed ticket sellers were inflating prices by up to 500 percent. It also dismissed current consumer laws as inconsistent and ineffective. Xenophon’s motion was not backed by the Australian government,…

Ontario opens public consultation on ticket touting bots, but Virginia wants a free market
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017

CONSUMER Live events sector   Ontario has launched a public consultation on plans to introduce new laws banning the use of ticket tout bots. The Canadian province’s Attorney General Yasir Naqvi had announced the intention to introduce new legislation last October and moves to outlaw the use of such software were reinforced after tickets for Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip’s farewell tour quickly found their way to secondary sites at massive mark-ups, on the news that frontman Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Ontarians with a view on secondary ticketing matters can fill out the consultation survey. And in advance of the UK’s move to regulate secondary ticketing and ban the use of bots to harvest tickets, the FanFair Alliance welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May’s “heartening” intervention on the secondary ticketing market. May was responding to Conservative MP Nigel Adams, who is leading the bid to make illegal the misuse of bot technology by ticket touts. “Does the Prime Minister agree that, when tickets to a teenage cancer charity gig by Ed Sheeran are being resold on the Viagogo ticket website for more than £1,000, with none of that money going to the charity… it is unfair…

UK government to act on touting
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017

CONSUMER Live events sector   In the wake of an outcry over touts re-selling tickets for Ed Sheerhan’s Teenage Cancer Trust charity show at the Royal Albert Hall and Adele’s O2 concerts, UK ticket touts who use computer ‘bots’ to mine for concert tickets before selling them for massive profits, and blocking fans from seeing their favourite artists except at huge mark ups, will face unlimited fines. National Trading Standards will also be handed a ringfenced pot of money to fund efforts to stop fans being ripped off or shut out of the most in-demand events. As well as criminalising bots, United Kingdom ministers at the DCMS will accept in full the recommendations of a review by Professor Michael Waterson, who published proposals to tackle rogue ticket traders last year. These include demanding that ticket firms to step up their own efforts to prevent the use of bots and to report any attacks on their systems by touts trying to harvest tickets. Culture minister Matt Hancock said: “This profiteering is simply not fair, so we are acting to put fans first and improve the chances of seeing our favourite musicians and sports stars at a reasonable price” adding “Ticket sellers…

Alabama joins Virginia on the trail of the free market ticket
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017

CONSUMER Live events sector   Lawmakers in Alabama are moving towards passing a new rule that would give consumers a statutory right to resell any tickets they have bought, which in turn would limit the tactics artists and promoters can employ to try to fight back against scalping (ticket touting). There are parallels between the proposals made by Alabama representative Paul Lee and the previously reported measures put forward in Virginia by delegate Dave Albo:  Virginia’s House Of Delegates has now passed the Ticket Resale Rights Act, which prohibits concert promoters from denying someone admission to an event because they have bought their ticket from a tout (scalper). The new legislation also seeks to stop the use of ticket controls designed to limit touting, such as locking a ticket to the credit card used to buy it. Under the Ticket Resale Rights Act, concert promoters  in Virginia wouldn’t be allowed to cancel a touted ticket in that way, whatever the terms and conditions of the ticket may say. Doing so could result in a fine of up to US $5,000.   The Alabama state-level laws would stop event organisers from cancelling tickets that have been resold, or forcing customers to resell their…

Live Nation fined for unfair AC/DC refund procedures
Consumers , Live Events / April 2017

CONSUMER Live events sector   The Spanish city of Seville has fined Live Nation 15,000 euros over the way it handled refunds in relation to an AC/DC concert in May 2016. Readers will remember the ‘Rock or Bust’ tour was interrupted and then substantially re-arranged when vocalist Brian Johnson was forced to pull out of live shows after being warned that he risked “total hearing loss” – and he was replaced by Guns ‘n’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Those who had brought tickets for the show were offered  the option of a refund if they didn’t want to attend the rearranged date with Rose. However, according to Spanish consumer rights group Facua, Live Nation then set a deadline on refund applications within a three day window, so many consumers wishing to cancel their tickets could not do so. At the time many fans were appalled at Rose being even suggested as a replacement, although Rose went on to get good reviews for his performances from fans and critics alike, and he turned up on time for shows. In its formal complaint to Seville’s Economy And Commerce Department, Facua said that whilst Live Nation didn’t initially set a deadline for refund applications, it…

Viagogo faces fresh legal actions for ticket re-sales
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / March 2017

CONSUMER / CONTRACT Live events sector   Hot on the heels of news that Viagogo were selling tickets for Ed Sheerhan’s Teenage Cancer Trust charity concert at the the Royal Albert Hall at vastly inflated prices, the now Geneva based secondary ticketing platform is facing fresh legal action from a coalition of Spanish promoters, “adding to its ever-growing collection of lawsuits”. The second lawsuit of 2017 follows the outcry over the speculative selling of tickets for a postponed show by Joaquín Sabina in A Coruña (Corunna), Spain, next July, and in a joint statement, the promoters of Sabina’s Lo niego todo (I deny everything) tour, TheProject, Get In and Riff Producciones, and his management company, Berry Producciones, say they are “outraged” and intend to bring legal action action against Viagogo for the fraudulent listing of “tickets that do not exist”.   A spokesperson told IQ magazine that the parties’ lawyers are currently in the process of filing the action and that the lawsuit mirrors one filed by SIAE in late January, in Italy in which the Italian collection society alleged Viagogo listed tickets for a Vasco Rossi show in Modena before they went on sale on the primary market in a move that dragged Live…

Irish MP launches anti touting Bill
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / February 2017

CONSUMER / COMPETITION Live events sector   Two months after Italy’s landmark legislation which criminalised ticket touting in Italy, an Irish MP has introduced a similar bill – the Prohibition of Above-Cost Ticket Touting Bill 2016 – for consideration by the Oireachtas in the Republic of Ireland. The ,move comes after the widespread re-sale of tickets for U2’s Joshua Tree tour, and the bill is authored by Noel Rock TD and seeks to outlaw above-face value resale in the Irish republic and would, if passed, “render it unlawful for any unauthorised person to sell or offer for sale tickets for major sporting, musical or theatrical events for a price in excess of the officially designated price [face value]”.   The bill has won the backing of a number of other members of Oireachtas, including Stephen Donnelly TD, who has separately contacted the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection to ask for an “investigation into potentially illegal activity” by ticket touts. Rock said: “I have been inundated with people contacting me regarding examples of ticket touting following the sale of U2 concert tickets ” adding “This will be one of the biggest concerts of the year and consumers are now being asked to pay a…

Italy moves to crimimalise touting
Consumers , Live Events / January 2017

CONSUMER Live event sector   An amendment to Italy’s 2017 budget law that would criminalise ticket touting has been approved by the country’s Chamber of Deputies. The amendment, introduced earlier this month by culture minister Dario Franceschini, prohibits the “sale, or any other form of placement [on the secondary market], of tickets” by anyone other than the issuer, and provides for fines of between €5,000 and €180,000 for those caught doing so – both online and elsewhere. In addition, secondary ticketing sites will themselves be held responsible if found to be facilitating the illegal resale of tickets, and subject to “removal of the [tickets] or, in severe cases, the blocking of the website through which the infringement has taken place”. The amendment does allow for the sale of the personal unwanted ticket(s), which are “not sanctioned when carried out by a physical person on an occasional basis, provided there is no commercial purpose”. The amendment will still need to be approved within 30 days by the justice, culture and economic ministries, although a source close to the situation told IQ Magazine that the move will “definitely be approved by [all] parties”. The passage of the bill could, however, be complicated by the…

US and UK move against ticketing touts
Competition , Consumers , Live Events / January 2017

CONSUMER – COMPETITION Live events sector   In the USA, anti-touting legislation has primarluly been governed by state level legislation – New York recently banned the use of the so called ‘bots ‘– software that enables ticket touts to buy up large quantities of tickets from primary sites – so that using such technology could result in criminal sanctions including imprisonment. But lawmakers in Washington have been increasingly talking about ‘banning the bots’ and this has resulted in the  ‘Better Online Ticket Sales Act’ (The ‘BOTS’ Act) which means that the use of tout bots will be defined as an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act, a move which will empower the FTC to pursue cases against people using such technology. The Act received Congressional approval earlier this month, and now President Obama has approved to the legislation and his office said the new US-wide measure would “prohibit the circumvention of control measures used by internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events”. Live Nation’s Ticketmaster was quick to welcome the passing of the BOTS Act saying: “On behalf of artists, venues, teams, and especially fans, Ticketmaster is pleased that the BOTS Act…

Culture Committee calls for a ban on ticketing ‘bots’
Consumers , Live Events / December 2016

CONSUMER LAW Live events sector     The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has written to the UK’s Secretary of State for Culture, media & Sport Culture, Karen Bradley MP, asking her to ban the use of ‘bots’ – software programmes used by touts to harvest tickets for resale in the secondary market. The letter also raises concerns about the operation of the event ticketing market following last week’s evidence session on ticket abuse for the Committee, citing “inappropriately close relationships” between those selling tickets on the primary market and the resellers on the secondary market which was recently exposed in Italy, where the boss of Live Nation had to admit that the promoter did directly provide tickets to the resale website Viagogo. Committee chairman Damian Collins MPsaid “The answers we got from witnesses representing the ticket sellers and resellers went from complacent to evasive” adding “Their failure to provide the most basic assurances about what they’re doing to tackle known large scale touts and fraudsters operating on their own sites – we had an example on screen in front of a Member in the session – have led us to believe there may be much bigger problems in this…

Canadian ticket agency fined for additional fees
Consumers , Live Events / December 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector   Canadian promoter and ticket agency Evenko has been fined C$10,056 for misleadingly pricing concert tickets after Quebec’s Office of Consumer Protection (L’Office de la protection du consommateur, OPC) took action against L’Aréna des Canadiens, Inc., trading as Evenko OPC found the company failed to offer a free delivery method for tickets to shows by Charles Aznavour and Enrique Iglesias at the 21,000 capacity Centre Bell in Montreal in 2014. The OPC noted that in Quebec “it is prohibited for any merchant, manufacturer or advertiser to charge a higher price than that advertised.” According to OPC, Evenko charged $5 to email the tickets or $7 to have them posted, and offered no option for picking up tickets (for free) at the box office. In Quebec the OPC say “Traders are compelled to provide an ‘all-inclusive’ price” for tickets, “which includes all fees except taxes. For example, in the case of a concert ticket, the price must include the service charge and [any other] fees related to the delivery of the ticket.” In September the district court of Bremen, Germany, ruled that charging fees on print-at-home tickets is unlawful. In New York Live Nation/Ticketmaster is facing a claim from plaintiff…

Print at home’ ticket fees ruled illegal in Germany
Consumers , Live Events / October 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector   A German court has delivered a preliminary ruling that fees for ‘print at home’ tickets should not be allowed, in a case brought against ticketing firm CTS Eventim by consumer rights group Verbraucherzentrale NRW. In their press release, Verbraucherzentrale NRW said that the ruling, could pave the way for similar action against other ticketing agencies which charge similar fees. The court said that if a fee was charged, then the provider was contractually bound to send out actual tickets. CTS Eventim charged customers a €2.50 fee for printing tickets at home through their “print @ home” and “ticketdirect” options. The decision is not (as yet) legally binding, The district court of Bermen found that services charges on self-printed tickets, better known here as print-at-home tickets, are “inadmissible,” or unzulässig in German and that CTS Eventim cannot charge such fees to their customers. The court ruled that the company can only charge ticket fees on “postage costs.” CTS Eventim has told IQ that it intends to appeal the ruling, which has yet to be reatifed by the higher court. http://www.completemusicupdate.com/article/german-court-rules-print-at-home-ticket-fees-illegal/

Ticketing updates
Consumers , Criminal Law / June 2016

CONSUMER / CRIMINAL Live events sector     The manager of Mumford & Sons has announced the band’s support for a petition demanding new tough penalties for ticket touting in UK ticket touts. Adam Tudhope says he hopes action on touting in Britain could set a precedent elsewhere in the world. The petition, entitled Enforce the Consumer Rights Act to protect music, arts and sport fans from touts, makes reference the statute of the same name, which requires ticket resellers to provide certain information on the seat or standing area the ticket is for, its face value and restrictions (for example, age). Tudhope’s petition has gained support from artistes including One Direction, Little Mix and Keane as well the Music Managers’ Forum (MMF) and the Association in Independent Festivals (AIF) and a number of MPs, and currently has approximately 27,000 signatures out of a target of 100,000, when it will be considered for debate in parliament. Tudhope said he supported making touting a criminal offence as it is with football tickets, or was with the London 2012 Olympics Games. However, although both Tudhope and Mumford & Sons have long been critical of the secondary ticket market in its current form, Tudhope told IQ…

UK ticket tout jailed for fraud, whist Swiss promoters seek better regulation

CONSUMER / CRIMINAL Live events sector     A ticket tout who sold over £400,000 worth of bogus concert and sports tickets in a 13-month period between May 2009 and June 2010 has been jailed for three-and-a-half years. John Lupton (53) of Upper Norwood, appeared at Blackfriars Crown Court where he was found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading and one count of money laundering. He has also been banned from acting as a company director until 2026. The London Evening Standard reported that defrauded customers paid £636,000 to two of Lupton’s dummy companies, Lines Direct Ltd and Williams & Hill Ltd, but at least £435,000 worth of tickets were not supplied, When buyers requested refunds, they found that the companies had been dissolved and their bank accounts cleared. Companies House also lists three other companies of which Lupton is or was a director: Festival Ticket Store Ltd, Dracrow Ltd and Commercial Logistics and Trading Ltd. It appears that whist a director of the companies,  Lupton was not the ‘brains’ behind the operation, and investigations continue. Allison Clare, prosecuting, said there is no prospect of recovering the money as Lupton was sleeping on his mother’s settee and living off…

West faces legal action from a fan over his Tidal “exclusivity” broken promise
Consumers / May 2016

CONSUMER Recorded music, streaming     Tidal and Kanye West are being sued over West’s claims (via tweets) that the only place anyone would ever get access to his new album ‘The Life Of Pablo’ would be on Tidal, a claim that ended up being somewhat false. Tidal did have an exclusive, with the album appearing there first, even before West had actually finished the record, with occasional updates being made to tracks even as they were streaming.  And West, a shareholder in Tidal, tweeted “my album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal”.   However when West’s new tracks subsequently popped up on the other streaming services,  West fan Justin Baker-Rhett wanted to know, why having subscribed to Tidal to access the new record, he subsequently discovered he could have enjoyed that music without signing up – and why this isn’t false advertising, unfair competition, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment.   Summarising the litigation, the law firm leading on the action, Edelson PC, argue that Jay-Z’s business empire and West himself “duped consumers into signing up for Tidal subscriptions – which required handing over troves of valuable personal data including credit…

Promoter ordered to make refunds in EXO Shanghai fiasco
Consumers , Live Events / April 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector     Shanghai’s arts and culture administration has ordered the Chinese promoter of a planned concert by K-Pop boyband EXO to provide a full refund to fans (so called EXO-Ls) after a concert advertised to last three hours finished after just 30 minutes. The promoter had also promised that all nine members of EXO would perform at least 10 songs ina three hour show. However, one key band member, Lay, was absent, and the 5 song concert lasted barely half an hour, reports allkpop.  Lay was apparently being filmed fo ra movie role. The band has existed as a 12, 11,10 and now 9 piece combination of Korean and Chinese members. In late 2014 two members of the band, Luhan and Kris (Wu Yi Fan) filed separate lawsuit against SM Entertainment asking to nullify their contracts with SME.   Many fans had reportedly paid up to ¥10,000 (approximately US$1,500) for front-row seats, with regular tickets fetching between¥4,000 and ¥6,000 yuan ($600–$900). Although refunds will be given, EXO-Ls will have to travel to an office block in Shanghai to collect their money, regardless of where they live. http://www.allkpop.com/article/2016/03/exo-ls-angered-for-being-misled-about-exos-concert-in-china   http://koalasplayground.com/2014/10/09/luhan-of-exo-files-same-lawsuit-as-former-member-kris-to-nullify-contract-with-sm-entertainment/

Petition launched to support secondary ticketing
Consumers , Live Events / March 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector     A new pro-secondary ticketing campaign has been launched in the UK, calling on the government to ensure the secondary ticketing market is protected from suggested reforms. The UK government is currently reviewing the secondary ticketing market as a result of commitments made in last year’s Consumer Rights Act. Professor Michael Waterson is leading the review, and numerous promoters and artists including Elton John and Mumford & Sons are calling for tighter regulation of the resale market. Professor Waterson will lead “an independent, consultative and evidence based review of consumer protection measures in the online ticket resale market. As required by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, this independently chaired review on secondary ticketing will report its findings before 26 May 2016.” The new online petition says “as fans who regularly attend live events, we urge [Waterson] to support our right to resell tickets without restrictions being imposed by event organisers” adding “Event organisers are lobbying hard to make it easier to cancel or void tickets that have been offered for resale without their permission” and “But we believe that fans should be free to resell tickets that they have purchased wherever they want”. The petition continues with “Further…

Russian legislators shy away from live industry regulation – for now
Consumers , Licensing , Live Events / March 2016

CONSUMER / LICENSING Live events sector     Billboard reports that Russian legislators have backed down from new regulations proposed for the live industry following criticism from a number of high-profile artists. Two months ago, legislators embraced a proposal from several major promoters and producers for a self regulating organisation of promoters. However a number of music producers and promoters behind the initiative said there is still a need for reform in the segment. “Ideas are proposed to be discussed,” Iosif Prigozhin, a prominent producer who was among the original proponents of the new regulations, told Billboard. “And regulations should be adopted in such a form that they will satisfy everyone.” “But the industry still needs some reforms and adjustment,” he went on to say, adding that the proposed regulations were not aimed at hurting artists but were expected to clean the segment of unscrupulous and unprofessional players. In January 2016 in anticipation of the new regulations,  a new organisation Soyukontsert was formed. Founder members include SAV Entertainment, PMI and NCA. At the time Soyukonsert saidf iyt would   – Create  an emergency fund to cover expenses for cancelled shows – Form a disciplinary commission that will assess professional standards for the live sector…

Why can’t New Yorker get tickets? Attorney General plans to act on scalping
Consumers , Live Events / March 2016

CONSUMER Live event sector     A new report from New York Attorney General, Eric T Schneiderman, has put ticket touting – or scalping – back on the agenda in the US. Schneiderman’s report on secondary ticketing in New York – ‘Why Can’t New Yorkers Get Tickets’ – is based on a three year investigation, and could result in a new crackdown against online touting. The regulation of ticket reselling in the US generally sits at a state-level. Rules in New York were actually relaxed in the early days of online touting, though the use of those bots to buy up large numbers of tickets is still banned there, and much of the new report – and possibly any resulting crackdown – is focused on the continued illegal use of such technology. According to the New York Times, the new report includes various touting claims, including that as many as half the seats for many popular concerts are not offered to the general public, that a single high-tech tout bought 1,012 tickets to a U2 concert in under a minute, and that free tickets that had been distributed for an appearance by Pope Francis in the city were resold for thousands of…

Adele fights back against the ticket touts
Consumers , Live Events / January 2016

CONSUMER Live events sector   Last week Sir Elton John branded ticket resale websites “disgraceful” for selling tickets to his gigs at inflated prices, joining other big name such as Mumford & Sons, Prince and Coldplay, who have all recently attacked the resale “rip-off”. Adele is now taking much publicised action to fight off the touts on her latest dates. The Observer has also revealed that Justin Bieber fans wanting tickets for his October 2016 London O2 dates are being asked on Get Me In to hand over as much as £1,825 for seats with a face value of just £50. That figure includes a £285 cut taken by Get Me In. The Observer has monitored the main sites in the UK (Seatwave, Viagogo, Get Me In and StubHub) and has found all four carry listings that appeared to be in breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which requires anyone who resells an event ticket via a secondary market website to provide details of the seat row and number, as well as the face value and information about any restrictions amid fresh claims that many sites are flouting the law and supporting “industrial-scale touting”.  A spokesman for Viagogo told the…

The UK’s secondary ticketing market is in the news again
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / November 2015

CONSUMER / CONTRACT Live Events Sector     Secondary ticketing was again in the news, firstly with the announcement by the UK government’s Department Of Culture, Media & Sport that Professor Michael Waterson will lead the review of the secondary ticketing market which follows from the recently enacted Consumer Rights Act – after MPs Mike Weatherley and Sharon Hodgson managed to ensure that some (but not all) of their concerns regarding the secondary ticketing market were enshrined in the Act – although one key proposal – that people reselling tickets online must publish their identity, was not included. That information would have allowed anti-touting promoters to more easily cancel tickets being touted as they appear on resale sites. The new legislation did provide for a review of consumer protection measures in the secondary ticketing domain, including making it compulsory to display the face value of the tickets being sold, and information on the seating area, and any restrictions that apply. Prof Waterson, specialises in industrial economics, including the economics of retail will chair the review. Interested parties have been invited to submit evidence by 20 Nov. Speaking at the time the legislation was finalised, Conservative Peer Colin Moynihan, a former sports minister, said:…

UK consumers gain protection for digital purchases
Consumers , Contract , Live Events / November 2015

CONTRACT / CONSUMER LAW Live events sector   “UK Shoppers know your rights: 30-day refund becomes law and includes digital purchases” Digital products from retailers such as Spotify and Apple’s iTunes are now covered by the newly revised Consumer Rights Act in the *United Kingdom, which introduces specific rules to protect online shoppers, including those of music and app download stores and streaming services.  Among the revised rules is users’ right to demand a replacement for faulty digital content such as films, games, apps, music and eBooks purchased. Another provision of the Act is that digital retailers will be required to offer financial compensation if users download a virus or their device becomes corrupted as a consequence of accessing a service. Consumers will also be able to challenge unfair terms and conditions or legal loopholes hidden in the small print, while all digital goods sold must be fit for purpose and “free from minor defects.” Business Minister Nick Boles said in a statement”Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights” adding “These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy…

Finland allows refunds for dreadful shows
Consumers , Live Events / August 2015

CONSUMER Live events sector   A tribunal in Finland has ruled that under-par concerts by established artistes should result in a refund of at least an element of the ticket price by the promoter. The Finnish Consumer Disputes Board is the result of a complaint following a 2013 Chuck Berry concert in Helsinki when the 88-year-old singer was sick and didn’t perform up to par. Berry apologised on stage for his condition during the show. The Board said that the event organizer should refund 50% of the ticket price. Board chairman Paul Stahlberg told Finnish broadcaster YLE that illness was a justifiable reason to ask for a refund, though a lack of sobriety may not be. “It’s not at all unusual at rock festivals that some artists are high, and that doesn’t even necessarily affect the quality of their performances,” he said. Its not a matter of taste though:  “Anyone seeking a ruling like this is always spurred by a subjective opinion, but that’s not enough to get a refund,” Stahlberg noted. “What is significant is a generally agreed view that the concert was a failure, as it was in the Chuck Berry case.”   The ruling opens the possibility…

Secondary ticketing back on the UK legislation agenda
Consumers , Live Events / March 2015

CONSUMER LAW Live events sector     In a policy U-turn, the UK Government is set to regulate ticket touting, with those breaching the new laws face fines of up to £5,000. The onus on stopping mass industrial scale toutng is to be shifted onto venues, however. The move came from the UK Government who had previously rejected attempts to amend legislation. The amendment now stands a much better chance of passing into law. Recently over 80 signatories to a open letter to the Government including the managers of One Direction and Arctic Monkeys, leading booking agents and the Association of Independent Festivals called on the Government to take action against ticket abuse and mass touting.  Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood recently criticised the “ever-increasing plague of ‘secondary ticketing’ excess” as a “blight on live music and sports events and much to the detriment of fans”.   Under new legislation, passed by the House of Lords, people re-selling their tickets to music gigs and sports events in the secondary market will be regulated more closely. Sellers will have to provide information on how much the ticket cost, the seat number and any restrictions imposed by the venue. This will expose…

UK’s anti tout law moves forwards
Consumers , Live Events / December 2014

CONSUMER LAW Live events sector   The UK’s House Of Lords has voted to include a new clause in the Consumer Rights Bill that would force people touting tickets online to provide buyers with  extra information, a move designed to make it clearer who exactly it is reselling tickets, how big a mark-up is being added, and what the risks are to the consumer by buying tickets on the secondary market. The amendment stems from a report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Ticket Abuse back in April, which hoped to speed up the prospect of some ticketing touting regulation by amending the in-development Consumer Rights Bill, rather than having to promote bespoke ticket touting legislation to government or via a private members bill. The amendment, which was approved by a small margin – 183 votes to 171 by the Lords with cross party support  – would oblige a ticket seller using a resale site like Viagogo, Seatwave or StubHub to reveal their identity, declare the face value of tickets they are selling, provide seat numbers and booking references associated with the ticket, and state whether the terms and conditions of the ticket being sold give the promoter the…

Australia senator proposes nationwide anti-scalping laws
Consumers , Live Events / May 2014

CONSUMER Live events sector   In Australia a senate Economics References Committee (SERC) member has called for a national law to be introduced to tackle the “scourge” of ticket touting. The independent senator for South Australia, Nick Xenophon, made the plea following the release of a SERC inquiry report on the subject, which made recommendations based on evidence supplied by 21 parties. Xenophon instigated the enquiry after disquiet over tickets for shows such as One Direction’s Australian GTour, priced at A$79, were being re-sold in eBay for A$4,000. The Senator called for “clear national consumer protection law that brings to an end this scourge on music and sports events”. The senator is keen on measures including a cap on the price of resale tickets, ticket sales to be subject to statutory consumer protection measures prohibiting and for secondary sites to reveal the of identify sellers. He also said promoters and other primary sellers should make the public aware of the number of tickets being sold and those being passed on to others including sponsors and  secondary markets.  New South Wale has already begun the process of implementing state laws to govern the re-sale of tickets – capping any  mark up…

Live Nation settle consumer protection claim over ticket mark ups
Consumers , Live Events / May 2014

CONSUMER Live events sector   Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) could be liable for up $38 million in compensation and costs following the conclusion of a class action lawsuit, brought against the company by disgruntled concert-goers in 2009. However the final cost will depend on the number of eligible ticket buyers taking up the settlement. Two music fans initially filed a lawsuit against LNE when they were charged a $6 parking fee on their ticket purchases for the 17,500-capacity PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, regardless of whether they intended to use the car park. Nearly 363,000 fans were covered by the settlement (in which LNE accepted no wrongdoing) and which entitles each fan to three free tickets and a $5 discount on future purchases. LNE must pay $1.7 million in legal costs and $7,500 to each of the two original claimants.  So far only 10% of eligible ticket buyers have applied under the class action scheme.   Audience Issue 171, April 2014

All Party Parliamentary Group will table legislative reform
Consumers , Live Events / May 2014

CONSUMER Live events sector   The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse has published the findings of its recent review of the secondary ticketing market, and says it will now table amendments to the Consumer Rights Bill, due to be debated in the House Of Commons next month with legislation to regulate ticket resale sites to follow. The APPG’s report does not seek an outright ban in ticket reselling but seeks safeguards to ensure resale platforms are not used by ticket fraudsters, and to ensure that sites are more transparent so vendors can be identified. . Amongst the Group’s recommendations are the following:   Guaranteed compensation for fans falling victim to ticket scams through resale websites, covering their costs for getting to the event. A legal requirement for resale websites to publish full information about the tickets listed through them, as well as information on the seller. A further requirement for resale websites to declare where tickets have been given directly to them from an event organiser, as well as to investigate the provenance of tickets where one individual tries to sell more than 20 for one show. Responsibility for tracking down and prosecuting those committing ticket crimes to…

Ticketmaster class action settlement rejected by court
Consumers , Live Events / November 2012

CONSUMER LAW Live events sector   Ticketnews.com reports that former Ticketmaster customers who had signed onto a class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster for charging excessive processing and shipping fees will have to wait a little while longer to receive their compensation, after Los Angeles Superior Court judge Kenneth Freeman rejected a proposed settlement agreement between Ticketmaster and the class-action plaintiffs’ attorneys, which included a $16.5 million payment to the plaintiff’s lawyers. More than 50 million class members would have received coupons from Ticketmaster in the amount of $1.50 to offset the overcharges in processing fees, while a smaller subclass of plaintiffs would receive $5.00 vouchers for overcharges in shipping fees. The lawsuit was filed prior to the enactment of the “Class Action Fairness Act,” which allows federal courts to use greater discretion in the awarding of attorneys’ fees and payouts to class members According to the plaintiff’ s claim, from the years 1999-2011, Ticketmaster took in roughly $590 million in charged shipping and processing fees, with only $165 million used to off-set actual costs. Ticketmaster, the suit argues, profited to the tune of $425 million over the twelve year period. However, Judge Freeman wrote that “In the court’s opinion, this settlement…

US Smartphones past tipping point with teens
Consumers / October 2012

TECHNOLOGY All areas   The majority of U.S. teenagers with a mobile device now own a smartphone, according to Nielsen’s latest mobile phone survey, with teens showing the most dramatic growth of any demographic.  58% of Americans between 13 and 17 years old are now smartphone owners, a sharp increase from the 36% of smartphone owning teens in July 2011. In all age groups more than half – 55.5% – of all mobile subscribers in the U.S. own smartphone, a significant increase over the 41% who did in July 2011. Young adults remain the most enthusiastic adopters, however, with 74% of 25-34 year-old Americans now owning smartphones, up from 59% a year ago. Android handsets continue to lead the U.S. smartphone market, followed closely by Apple’s iPhone, among both first-time and repeat smartphone buyers. Android has a 52% market share which grows to 58% with new buyers (in the last three months) and BlackBerry continued its decline,  dipping to 8% share of the U.S. smartphone market and only 3% of recent acquirers. Apple’s iPhone has fairly level 34% market share. http://www.bizreport.com/2012/09/smartphone-adoption-in-us-led-by-teens.html

Talk Talk top poor customer service chart
Consumers / January 2011

CONSUMERS Internet, mobiles Talk Talk, have come top of the Times’ league table of worst customer service. “Our Scrooge of the Year award goes to ‘bullying’ Talk Talk” puts the poor level customer service from the phone and broadband service provider  as the worst in the UK ahead of other woeful efforts from Santander, Easyjet, Paypal and the UK tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Would that be the same Talk Talk who joined BT is asking for a judicial review of the UK’s three strikes law enshrined in the Digital Economy Act – because the Act fails to meet current EC rules on data protection and privacy (alongside complaints that the legislation was rushed, that it might fail to comply with current European e-commerce regulations and fourthly that that it lacks proportionality’). Talk Talk – a friend of the consumer? Really???? The Times Saturday December 18th 2010

MBlox fined £40,000 over Crazy Frog ringtone advertising
Consumers / January 2006

CONSUMER Telecommunications The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (Icstis is the UK regulator for the premium rate telecoms sector) has fined service provider MBlox £40,000 over the Crazy Frog ringtone. Some 338 customers complained to Icstis over the ‘excessive’ bills they received when they signed up for the mad-eyed amphibian’s phone-tone. On securing the tone, they then found themselves signed up to a series of premium-rate reverse charge texts from Jamba that cost them up to £5 a week. Icstis argued that insufficient information was included in the adverts although agreed that there was no malicious or fraudulent intent. The 338 people who formally complained will be refunded and it is expected that thousands of others will follow their lead and seek their money back. The ringtone has generated an estimated £10M for MBlox and Jamba and the single of the tone reached number one in the UK singles charts, stopping Coldplay reaching the top. Britons now send 93 million texts each day according to the Mobile Data Association. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4546374.stm