February 9, 2023

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The Legal System

Taylor Swift fans sue Ticketmaster, seek damages over ticket sales fiasco

Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster after they were unable to buy tickets to the pop superstar’s tour last month due to its website crashing during a pre-sale.

Many fans complained of hours-long waits, error messages and exorbitant resale prices while trying to purchase tickets on Nov. 15 for Swift’s Eras tour.

Ticketmaster blamed its website’s meltdown on overwhelming demand and postponed general sales for Swift’s tour while it shores up its platform.

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, a group of 26 Swift fans accuses Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, of intentional misrepresentation, fraud, price fixing and antitrust violations, among other unlawful practices, over the bungled pre-sale. The lawsuit was first reported by TMZ.

The plaintiffs allege Ticketmaster “intentionally and purposefully misled” purchasers about the availability of tickets, allowed scalpers and bots to buy tickets, and “was eager” to allow resales that would bring in extra fees.

Swift poses for a selfie with fans in Toronto on Sept. 9. Many fans were unable to buy tickets to U.S. dates for her Eras tour when Ticketmaster’s site crashed on Nov. 15. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

“Ticketmaster is a monopoly that is only interested in taking every dollar it can from a captive public,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages, and ask that the company be fined $2,500 US ($3,367 Cdn) for each violation, if it is found guilty.

CBC News has reached out to Ticketmaster and Live Nation for comment.

Calls to break up Ticketmaster’s power

Ticketmaster has previously said it tried to limit demand for Swift’s pre-sale while simultaneously preventing scalping by requiring fans to register for verification, and only sending pre-sale codes to about 40 per cent of those “verified” accounts. 

But a “staggering number” of bots — used by scalpers to quickly snap up tickets that can be resold at inflated prices — as well as fans without pre-sale codes overloaded its website, the company said in an explanatory post last month.

Ticketmaster has postponed general sales for Swift’s tour while it shores up its platform. Here, Swift performs at Madison Square Garden in New York on Dec. 13, 2019. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

In a statement on Instagram three days after the ticket fiasco, Swift also blamed Ticketmaster, writing: “We asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could.”

Music industry experts recently told CBC News that Swift and her team would have approved some of the measures that fans objected to, including how many tickets were available for pre-sales and allowing tickets to be resold.

Ticketmaster is also facing scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and regulators, as well as renewed calls to break it apart from Live Nation, which it merged with in 2010.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who chairs a subcommittee on competition and consumer rights, has promised a hearing “to examine the lack of competition in the ticketing industry,” while the Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation, the New York Times reported