Bad Blood: Ohio AG evaluating if he can investigate Ticketmaster for Taylor Swift ticketing mess
In this photo illustration, A ticketmaster website is shown on a computer screen on November 18, 2022. The Justice Department is reportedly investigating the parent company of Ticketmaster for possible antitrust violations, this follows the news that Taylor Swift concert ticket sales overwhelmed the Ticketmaster system.(Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is evaluating whether he has the legal ability to launch an investigation into Ticketmaster following the disastrous rollout of Taylor Swift tickets.
Taylor swift superfans, called Swifties, are known as one of the most dedicated fanbases in all of music. That’s why it was so hard for millennial Astone Jackson to come to terms that he was so close to getting tickets to the Era’s Tour, but all he ended up getting was a blank space.
“It was utter horror, it was just horrible,” Jackson said. “I spent the entire day trying to get to it.”
He attempted to navigate the labyrinth, but there was a glitch, he added. He ended up having to begin again whenever he got tickets in his cart.
“I was there and then it just kicked you out or it freezes, and then you’re just out,” he said. “Then we ended up not getting tickets.”
Julie Viola was able to get tickets for her and her two twenty-something kids, but only after watching the prices of each seat change. The fees also started to increase by the second due to what’s called “dynamic pricing,” which is a selling technique that raises the cost of available seats once others are sold.
“I was more shocked with the fees,” Viola said. “But I did notice that when I went back in, when I backed out of the floor seats, the prices started rising.”
Long story short, she had to pay $75 extra for each ticket for a service fee, on top of already paying more than she wanted to, she added. She had already been trying like a mad woman to get them, so she just paid.
“This is more money than I’ve ever spent on tickets combined for any concert or Broadway show,” she said.
High schooler Elle never even got the link to get tickets.
“I think it’s totally unfair,” the fourteen-year-old said. “It’s just crazy, like, how many people just wanted to get it and just couldn’t.”
Her mother, corporate law expert Anat Alon-Beck, said this has been an ongoing issue for Ticketmaster, especially since they merged with media giant LiveNation.
“Not only do they sell the tickets, they’re also responsible for the venues and other aspects and that’s why it’s so problematic,” Alon-Beck said.
The Justice Department has already investigated LiveNation for antitrust violations, but Alon-Beck said that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost should launch a state investigation into it.
“Ohio does not have a price gouging statute law like many other states do,” his spokesperson said. “The Attorney General is examining our consumer practice statute to determine if there is a legal theory available under Ohio law.”
Yost would have to be creative to do so, but it’s worth it, Alon-Beck said. Certain interpretations could fit the mold since the state does ban unfair sale practices.
“Why is it that we don’t have competition, what is it that we need to improve here?” she asked. “I look at it as abusive and this is exactly what we want to protect consumers from.”
Ticketmaster has issued an apology to both Swift and her fans, but in doing so, it canceled general admission tickets due to “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.” Swift apologized as well, blaming the company for telling her they could handle this kind of demand.
“I just don’t think it was a fair shot for the fans,” Jackson said.
Yost’s team added that if you think you have been a victim of an unfair or deceptive practice, call their hotline at 800-282-0515. The team asked for viewers to file complaints online at this link: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Consumers/File-a-Complaint
Follow WEWS Statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.
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