More than two dozen Swifties are suing Ticketmaster alleging fraud, misrepresentation and antitrust violations after the company canceled Taylor Swift’s public sale for her Eras Tour.
Call it what you want, but Ticketmaster is not out of the woods.
The lawsuit claims the Los Angeles-based company violated California’s antitrust and unfair competition laws and artificially imposed higher ticket prices during the presale, sale and resale market — from all of which Ticketmaster benefits. Additionally, the lawsuit claims Ticketmaster is controlling and exclusive, forcing concert-goers to only use their site.
The 26 plaintiffs are asking for $2,500 for each violation.
The lawsuit claims Ticketmaster’s behavior has “substantially harmed and will continue to substantially harm Taylor Swift fans.”
When Ticketmaster announced registration for the Eras Tour tickets, they promised to level the playing field “without racing against bots for ticket access.” The pre-sale codes were meant to deter bots, but the lawsuit alleges an “intentional deception” that allowed third-party scalpers to buy the majority of tickets.
According to the lawsuit, Swift was forced to work with Ticketmaster, as they have agreements with the stadiums large enough to host her fanbase.
The lawsuit alleges Ticketmaster’s expansion of the secondary ticket market, which is where fans buy from brokers or other fans who can no longer use their tickets. The lawsuit claimed Ticketmaster stated they have taken steps to address the issue with scalpers in the secondary market, but are still making additional profit from these tickets.
According to the lawsuit, “Ticketmaster forces purchasing of tickets from its site to only use Ticketmaster’s Secondary Ticket Exchange for the resale of those tickets. Ticketmaster then gets the higher fees paid by fans who have no choice but to pay for the ‘right’ to use the Secondary Ticket Exchange platform.”
Tickets were being resold for double and triple the original ticket price, claiming it was, in fact, the original price.
The lawsuit claims Ticketmaster allowed the resales eagerly, as they are paid with each resale.
Additionally, the lawsuit claims Ticketmaster has “conspired with stadiums” to force concert-goers to buy the more expensive tickets from Ticketmaster, once again, giving Ticketmaster more money.
The lawsuit stated the company continues to violate the terms of its merger with Live Nation, Ticketmaster’s parent company, retaliating against stadiums and venues that choose ticketing companies other than Ticketmaster.
The lawsuit continued, saying on Nov. 15, millions of Swift fans with pre-sale codes were barred from purchasing tickets. These codes were then distributed, and 14 million non-verified Ticketmaster users were allowed presale.
Those who did not receive a code were promised general sale access on Nov. 18, but that sale was canceled on Nov. 17 due to an insufficient quantity of tickets. The lawsuit claims Ticketmaster did this intentionally, allowing the majority of ticket access to scalpers and bots.
The lawsuit claims “Ticketmaster intentionally provided codes when it could not satisfy ticket demand.”
BYU human resource major Omar Castillo was one of the lucky ones to get tickets. Castillo is a regular concert-goer and was confident in his abilities to navigate Ticketmaster.
“I figured out the prime time to enter the queue for the waiting room and I learned some tips and tricks about what to do in the waiting room so you can be one of the first ones to enter,” he said.
In this case, however, Castillo recognized it came down to luck. He and his friends signed up for pre-sale codes and saw firsthand the problems they brought.
“It was messy,” he said.
Castillo also said he trusted Swift who trusted Ticketmaster would be able to meet the expected demand.
“It’s Ticketmaster’s fault for not serving enough or not reading the room enough and not taking the precautions to have a safe and smooth experience for the fans,” he said.
Former BYU student, current UVU student and dedicated Swift fan Brennan Purcell waited in Ticketmaster’s queue for eight hours.
“It was so bad, but I got tickets eventually so all is well,” he said.
Purcell does not believe Ticketmaster was prepared and thinks they could have handled the situation better.
“Ticketmaster knew what they were dealing with. They knew that Taylor Swift’s fan base is probably higher than just about any other artist’s fan base right now, and that ticket demand is through the roof for her concerts,” Purcell said.
Capitol One cardholders were also promised a day to purchase tickets, but the lawsuit claimed millions more were denied because Ticketmaster released less than ten percent of their seating capacity.
The lawsuit alleges Ticketmaster sold void VIP tickets, tickets with obstructed views and disability-compliant seats to those without disabilities.
BYU statistics major Claudia Caten experienced this, saying she had the opportunity to select those should-be reserved seats but did not, managing to secure tickets elsewhere in the venue.
In her major, Caten studies data science and understands coding. She understands that “sometimes websites just get backed up,” however even with that knowledge, was not pleased with the situation.
“I understand Taylor Swift had a high demand and I understand waiting in line. But what I’m most frustrated about is once I got in it took another hour,” Caten said. “The site would crash and I’d have to start all over again and Ticketmaster never told me why.”
Caten explained that not only were fans having to sacrifice higher-than-usual ticket prices, but time as well.
“It was an investment and sacrifice,” she said.
A problem BYU computer science major Delaney Reed found was that those who had a pre-sale code were not asked for that code until the time of purchase, resulting in higher traffic on the site as those without codes were still trying to get in.
Reed suggested putting in the pre-sale codes at the beginning of the ticket-getting process, as a “clear way to decrease the traffic.”
Swift’s previously announced tour, “Lover Fest,” was supposed to take place in 2020 but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of that cancelation, those who purchased tickets for that tour were told they would be given preferred access to her Era’s Tour.
“I had friends who had Lover Fest tickets but did not get their promised bonus in line or code,” Reed said. “Ticketmaster kept saying things that ended up not being true. There were a lot of broken promises.”
Ticketmaster has not commented on the lawsuit.