Winning Feels a Lot Like Losing

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

It’s a long-standing not-really-much-of-a-joke that buying event tickets from Ticketmaster is an obscene rip-off. The Simpsons riffed on it twenty years ago, and they certainly weren’t the first.

you laughed when I bought Ticketmaster. 'Nobody's going to pay a 100% service charge.'[Image credit: Frinkiac.com]

However, if you purchased tickets via Ticketmaster.com between 1999 and 2013, you’re part of a lawsuit against Ticketmaster. Yes, folks who bought tickets in that time period are lucky Class Members in the Schlesinger v. Ticketmaster Class Action Settlement. There’s plenty of details about the suit available, but the gist is that it was about deceptive “Order Processing Fees” (OPFs) Ticketmaster charged to purchasers. After over a decade of legal wrangling, a settlement was reached in 2015, and the results of that settlement will soon be distributed. If you’re waiting by the mailbox priming yourself for a big fat check, however, prepare to be disappointed.

No, instead of money, you’ll be receiving “Discount Codes” good toward future screwings by purchases from Ticketmaster! Yes, a maximum of 17 Discount Codes, each worth a grand total of $2.25 will be placed in your Ticketmaster account. If you had your tickets shipped to you via UPS, you’ll also receive some juicy “UPS Discount Codes” to save $5 off future overpriced shipping. And don’t worry, you don’t need to attend 17 different events before these codes expire just 4 years from now. No, no, you can use up to two of each type of Discount Codes per order!

It gets better though, or at least more confusing, because there are also “Ticket Codes”. A Ticket Code will be eligible for two tickets at Live Nation venues. If I understand this correctly, these really will be complimentary General Admission tickets to concerts, with no service charges for basic will call or print-at-home delivery. Of course, these Ticket Codes will only be available at designated concerts, and the tickets for a specific event will be issued on a first come, first served basis, so good luck actually using these Ticket Codes.

So, assuming you make additional ticket purchases, you’ll receive a small reduction in the egregious fees Ticketmaster charges. You may also manage to get free tickets to a show, though not one with actual seats. The individual plaintiffs who initially brought this suit may receive up to $40,000, and I say bully for them. Perhaps the best news is that Ticketmaster must also pay $3 million to UC-Irvine’s School of Law to establish the Consumer Law Clinic, which will help consumers understand their rights, responsibilities, and remedies for online purchases. Finally, the attorneys who worked on this case will receive as much as $14,960,000 in attorneys’ fees and $1.5 million in costs and expenses. But hey, we’re all winners here, right?

That list of winners actually includes Ticketmaster itself, because here’s another part of the settlement:

“Ticketmaster has changed its website and FAQs to add disclosures clarifying that Ticketmaster’s OPF may include a profit and is not limited to its order processing costs, and that its Delivery Price for expedited delivery via UPS may include a profit to Ticketmaster and is not the same as what UPS charges Ticketmaster.”

In other words, Ticketmaster isn’t actually required to stop charging these profit-generating “fees”. They simply need to spell out the fact that they’re using additional charges to gouge you for even more money. Justice!


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