A lawsuit filed by talent agency Universal Attractions against Ticketmaster over alleged unfair pricing for the I Love the 90s tour has been dismissed by a federal judge.
On Feb. 12, U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels granted Ticketmaster’s motion to dismiss the case (read it here), saying Universal Attractions had failed to demonstrate that the ticketing giant had intentionally deceived consumers over the price of tickets.
“The crux of (Universal Attraction’s) argument is that Ticketmaster misled members of the general public in advertising tickets during presales by failing to inform them of’ other ticket prices,” Daniels wrote in his decision. “Yet, the mere fact that Ticketmaster disclosed some ticket prices during presales, but not others, does not constitute false advertising.”
Universal Attractions filed the lawsuit in August, arguing the ticketer damaged the tour by only showing consumers high-priced premium tickets in some markets during presale periods, leading consumers to think ticket prices had skyrocketed because they were only being shown VIP tickets and not regular tickets priced at $65, $75, and $150.
“During the (I Love the 90s) pre-sale period,” Daniels wrote “Ticketmaster listed the VIP tickets priced at $250 to $350 “first, foremost, and only” on its website for the concert. While those with pre-sale codes could input their codes on Ticketmaster’s website to access and purchase tickets other than the VIP tickets at different prices, members of the general public (i.e. those without a pre-sale code) could only view and purchase the VIP tickets during this period.”
Only showing the price of VIP tickets during the presale resulted in terrible ticket sales and show cancellations, lawyers for the Universal Attractions Agency claimed, alleging the pricing error was intentionally done to hurt the tour “with full knowledge of the damage their errors were causing.” The tour featured appearances by 90s stars like TLC, Naughty by Nature, Blackstreet, Mark McGrath, CC Music Factory and Biz Markie.
One show with promoter Nederlander Concerts at Vino Robles in Paso Robles, California had to be canceled because the date was “irreparably damaged by the new Ticketmaster presale and VIP problem with their new format” according to a letter submitted by Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges.
“The glitch or error on the part of Ticketmaster had to do with showing the fans only the high VIP ticket price and a failure to present the options of the ticket prices that were agreed upon by (UAA) and us when we bought the show,” Hodges said, noting that only seven VIP tickets were sold. According to the letter, this issue also affected 12 other shows on the tour.
“Ticketmaster’s new format was the cause of this foiled launch,” Hodges wrote, noting that fans abandoned the sales page in record numbers. “The ‘conversion’ of 1.3 percent is really bad, awful and is considerably less than last year’s 5.62 percent conversion rate,” he wrote. “While we continued with the marketing campaign even after the immediate recognition that the problem was a disaster, it made no difference. There is no recovery for this show! The market is remote and small and this show is dead.”
Nederlander was forced to pay a $60,000 cancellation fee, absolving itself of $90,000 in artist fees and $25,000 in production. In total, the show only sold 140 tickets and two meet and greets.
Judge Daniels said that consumers were probably confused about the cost of tickets, but added the decision to sell VIP tickets during a general onsale was likely to blame for consumer confusion, and not anything intentionally done by Ticketmaster.
“The lack (or presence) of tickets at prices lower than the VIP tickets on Ticketmaster’s website during presales has no bearing whatsoever on the veracity of the VIP ticket prices themselves. which, as noted earlier, Ticketmaster advertised correctly.”