Ticket selling practices under fire

February 10 2009 by Ellen Roseman

Companies usually co-operate when I send them complaints. But tracking down a contact at Ticketmaster Entertainment to get things resolved wasn’t easy, as I mentioned in my column last Saturday

Ticketmaster spokesman Albert Lopez in California has his hands full. No wonder he’s slow to respond to media calls.

Last week, rocker Bruce Springsteen complained that New Jersey concert buyers were redirected to TicketsNow, a resale site owned by Ticketmaster, when box office tickets were still available.

This week, two law firms launched a class action lawsuit, seeking $500 million in compensation for contravention of anti-scalping laws in Ontario.

And yesterday, Ticketmaster announced a merger with Live Nation, a big concert promoter that was planning to sell tickets directly to the public in competition with its former partner. Critics say they’ll fight for a review under U.S. anti-trust laws.

Mel Fruitman, vice-president of the Consumers Association of Canada, is critical of Ticketmaster’s sales practices. Tickets for the Springsteen concert in Toronto on May 7, which went on sale last Friday at noon, were gone two hours later. But he found 894 tickets available for sale above their face value at TicketsNow.com.

“I was shocked to see so many resale tickets at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, which has a capacity of 17,000,” he says. “They have to be scalpers selling them. This isn’t just a convenience for those who can’t go to the performance.”

Check out the Consumerist’s attack on Ticketmaster, “an evil monpoly that steals cash from defenseless consumers.”

Even when you buy tickets from the box office, you may pay about 30 per cent extra in surcharges. The most annoying is the convenience charge, the price you pay for printing out the tickets you bought.

CBC Marketplace ran an item on Ticketmaster last month.

We buy a couple of seats to Britney Spears’ top-selling concert tour from Ticketmaster for $65 each. We get hit with a $4.25 service charge and a “convenience fee.”

Over at TicketsNow, the reseller site that Ticketmaster owns, we find tickets in the same section but the price is 50 per cent higher. And off those second-hand Britney Spears tickets, they take 15 per cent of the resale price.

So TicketMaster, you’re busted for double dipping, making money off the same tickets, twice.


  1. rob summerby

    Oct 12 2009

    I just realized that Ticket Triangle ripped me off for over $700 on 7 tickets that I purchased for Chicago, the musical, performed at the Ottawa NAC in June ’09.

    My online receipt from Ticket Triangle dated May 4 shows that I paid $764.50 for 7 tickets.

    My Visa statement shows a payout to “Northside Tickets” for $924 (the ticket seller) on May 7. I realize there was $160 charged in Canada to US exchange.

    I just checked my ticket stub & the seats (which were at the absolute back of the top balcony in the theatre) were actually worth $30 each.

    How do I get this fixed?

  2. Annoyed

    Jun 24 2016

    You should look into this again.

    It’s even worse now. There are resale tickets available on their site.

    I just tried to buy Guns ‘n Roses tickets and they wanted to charge me an additional service fee of $59 PER TICKET!

    PER TICKET!!!! To resell tickets that were purchased through them and are now being resold by a third party directly through them.

    That is ludicrous and disgusting.

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