Lawmaker: Investigate Springsteen ticket sales
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
BY PEGGY McGLONE
A New Jersey congressman has asked the federal government to investigate allegations that tickets to two Bruce Springsteen concerts were diverted to a ticket resale agency moments after they went on sale Monday morning.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th Dist.) said his constituents complained that Ticketmaster, the primary ticket seller for the concerts, said tickets were sold out and directed consumers to its subsidiary, TicketsNow, a secondary marketplace where tickets were being offered for resale at three and four times the cover price.
Pascrell wrote a letter yesterday to the Federal Trade Commission and the antitrust division of the Justice Department asking them to "investigate the relationship between Ticketmaster and TicketsNow to ensure that the procedure for purchasing tickets remains fair to the average consumer."
"There is a significant potential for abuse when one company is able to monopolize the primary market for a product and also directly manipulate and profit from the secondary market," he wrote. "The speed with which tickets were made available on Ticketmaster's official resale site raises questions about whether TicketsNow brokers were given preferential treatment."
About 30,000 tickets to the two Izod Center shows were sold in a little over an hour Monday morning. Many fans said they encountered error messages at the Ticketmaster website that prevented them from purchasing tickets before they were sold out.
Others were outraged that within minutes of the sale, hundreds of tickets were being hawked at TicketsNow.
"This burns me up. It's reprehensible," Pascrell said. "There has to be a deal cooking between the two companies, Ticketmaster and TicketsNow. One has no tickets and the other is selling them at three and four times the (original) price."
Springsteen, who performed during Sunday's Super Bowl, is touring this spring in support of his new album, "Working on a Dream."
Heather Dunham of Great Meadows is one of many fans who think the Ticketmaster computer error message prevented regular fans from gaining access to tickets that were immediately available for resale at up to $4,000 apiece. Dunham, 50, said every one of her 12 friends trying to get tickets struck out.
"There's a lot of competition for tickets, granted, but between those of us who try to go, one of us manages to get tickets," Dunham said. "For the first time ever, everybody got that error message."
"It was amazing how instantaneously all the tickets were available on the scalper (sites). All of the tickets? For them to be available instantaneously? It's far too coincidental to be fact," she said. "It's just impossible."
Albert Lopez, a Ticketmaster spokesman, said Monday only a "teeny" number of customers were affected by the computer problem. He also said all of the tickets sold through TicketsNow had been purchased by individuals and were not diverted by the ticket service. He did not return calls yesterday.
Calls to Springsteen's management yesterday also were not returned.
Dan Motley of Montclair is so upset he plans to file a criminal complaint.
"This is ridiculous. The common Joe can't get these tickets," said Motley, a retired state trooper who was not able to purchase tickets. "It reeks of everything that is improper. Is it illegal? I don't know, but it's definitely unfair."
Peggy McGlone may be reached at (973) 392-5982 or firstname.lastname@example.org.