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

Zeta Jones and Douglas Win Limited Damages
Artists , Consumers , Image Rights , Privacy / December 2003

PRIVACY, IMAGE RIGHTS, COMMERCIAL CONFIDENCE Artists The photographs snatched by papparatzi at Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas’ wedding have cost Hello! Magazine more than £1 million in damages. In the High Court, Mr Justice Lindsay awarded a total of £14,600 damages to the couple and also awarded OK! Magazine £1,033,156 in damages for commercial damage to its exclusive coverage of the New York wedding in November 2000. See Law Updates May 2003 COMMENT : The judgement in this case sees only limited damages awarded to the couple : a nominal £50 to each of the claimants for data protection infringements and £3,750 each for the ‘distress’. The substantial award of damages is to OK magazine who lost their right to exclusive pictures from the celebrity wedding and Mr Justice Lindsey accepted that the magazine had lost substantial sales. To take this further, this ‘commercial confidence’ must be based on the licence of certain rights Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas has – and it is suggested that this is not only to the ‘event’ itself, the wedding, but to their own image. Most recently F1 driver Eddie Irving won a case against TalkRadio after they used the driver’s image in an…