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Ticketmaster faces class-action lawsuit over ticket scalping allegations

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A Seattle-based law firm said a computer program designed by Ticketmaster may be to blame for customers not being able to get tickets to live events.

Seattle attorney Steve Berman’s class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster accuses the company of selling a computer program called Trade Desk that helps third party sellers upload large number of tickets and put them on the secondary market at prices much higher than face value.

“What happens is, rather than buying a ticket at $100, you are buying at $300 or $400, so makes consumer pay too much money,” Steve Berman said.

And that’s an issue because Berman said Ticketmaster’s program turns a blind eye to those who use ticket bots.  Ticket bots are computer programs that can buy tickets at numbers greater than the limits set by venues and artists, which shuts out consumers.

“It makes it impossible for a consumer to get a ticket,” Berman said.

Washington has a ticket bots law.  As a result of our reports on the issue, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office drafted Ticket Bots legislation, which became law in 2015.  Berman believes Ticketmaster has violated that law.

“Ticketmaster has facilitated someone else violating the ticket limits, which makes it a bots violation and consumer protection violation in California, in Washington, in any state in my opinion,” Berman said.

Josh Labelle, the Executive Director of the Seattle Theatre Group, which includes the Paramount, said he was shocked by the allegation.

“We have our own ticketing staff here,” Labelle said.  “They stay on top of everything.  We watch were our tickets go on a real regular basis, and you’ve nothing like this.  I’ve seen nothing like this at our venues here.”

Labelle was one of the major forces pushing for Washington Ticket bots law.  Ticketmaster supported the law’s passage, and it’s been helping STG find bots during ticket sales.

“We’ve used Ticketmaster’s products to help us do that, so that’s why it’s hard for us to believe, yet at the same time, we’re watching carefully,” Labelle said.

Also watching is Shannon Smith, the lead attorney for the AG’s Consumer Protection Division. Her unit has sued businesses under Washington’s bot law.

“When there is an allegation that an entity is violating our ticket bot statute… Whenever we see allegation like that, we take that very seriously,” Smith said.

The lawsuit claims Ticketmaster would cash in twice with the help of third party sales.

It uses this example:

Let’s say there’s a ticket sale for $209.50 cents.  Ticketmaster would collect around $25.75.  But when those same tickets are posted for resale for $400,  Ticketmaster could collect an additional $76 from the same tickets.

KIRO reached out to Ticketmaster for comment on the lawsuit, but did not hear back.

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