TicketNetwork, the ticket resale business in South Windsor, has agreed to more clearly identify itself as a secondary seller of tickets instead of an official website for concert and sports venues in a settlement with the state attorney general and Department of Consumer Protection.
Here is the joint announcement released Thursday morning by the AG’s office and DCP:
The Office of the Attorney General, at the request of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, is joining the Federal Trade Commission to file a Complaint and Consent Orders in U.S. District Court against TicketNetwork, Inc., a Connecticut-based ticket resale company, its wholly-owned subsidiary TicketSoftware, LLC, and two companies that are part of TicketNetwork’s Partner Program, Ryadd, Inc. and SecureBoxOffice, LLC. Also named in the complaint are Ryadd co-owners Ryan J. Bagley and Charles A. Lineberry, and Secure Box Office owner James Moran.
All defendants have been involved in the secondary ticket market, in which ticket resellers such as brokers advertise and sell event tickets to consumers. In the primary ticket market, consumers buy tickets directly from either a venue box office or from an authorized ticket service. While the primary market typically sells tickets at face value, the secondary market, which operates primarily online, often sells tickets at prices above face value.
“We pursued this action to bring some needed transparency to secondary ticket market transactions,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said today. “Through today’s settlement, TicketNetwork will more clearly advise consumers that they are purchasing through the resale ticket market rather than through a venue’s box office. Armed with accurate information, consumers can make better-informed decisions about whether the resale ticket market provides them with the tickets and services they value at reasonable prices.”
“This settlement will help Connecticut consumers avoid confusion and deception in the ticket resale market, and I commend Commissioner Rubenstein and his department for their leadership on this matter,” said Attorney General George Jepsen. “Today’s consent order ensures that consumers will not be misled, whether intentionally or unintentionally, when seeking to purchase tickets through a reseller.”
The State alleges that through use of website design, web addresses and terms like “official” tickets, the defendants falsely created the impression for consumers that their online ticket sites were official websites for the venues or other entities authorized to sell tickets at face value, when in truth the websites were secondary market sites reselling tickets, often at higher prices.
The Complaint asserts that the alleged actions are violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Also filed today in U.S. District Court are Consent Orders agreed to by each of the defendants. Under terms of the consent orders, which must be approved by the court, all defendants are prohibited from misrepresenting, directly or by implication, that their resale websites are affiliated with any venue box office.
Among other terms of the Orders are specific bans on:
• using the name of theaters, stadiums or other entertainment venues, including partial or alternate spellings in website URL addresses;
• deceptively using pictures, logos or descriptions of venues; and
• using the word “official” in phrases such as “official tickets,” “official source,” or “official website” in any online advertising, display URLs, websites, web pages or any other form of advertising for the sale of secondary market tickets.
All defendants, their officers, agents, employees, attorneys and servants, and others directly or indirectly involved with them in advertising, marketing or promoting secondary market tickets are subject to the Orders’ ban of misrepresenting or implying that any resale ticket website is a primary ticket site, or that a resale site is offering tickets at face value — unless authorized by the venue, primary seller or original issuer of the tickets.
Furthermore, the defendants and all associates must disclose, clearly and prominently on the ticket listing page and the payment authorization page of their ticket sale websites that:
a) their site is a resale ticket marketplace and not a venue or box office;
b) the ticket price offered here may exceed face value; and
c) the website is not owned by the venue, team, performer or promoter (as applicable).
Under the Consent Orders, defendants also agree to requirements regarding record-keeping, monitoring of subsidiary agents, and ongoing compliance reporting to the State and the FTC.
Ryadd, Inc., and co-owners Ryan J. Bagley and Charles A. Lineberry, are ordered to pay $550,000 to the State of Connecticut. SecureBoxOffice, LLC and owner James Moran are ordered to pay $100,000 to the State of Connecticut, and TicketNetwork, Inc. and TicketSoftware, LLC are ordered to pay $750,000 to the State of Connecticut. All funds are to be used by the State for complaint resolution programs, consumer education and consumer protection enforcement.
The Department of Consumer Protection issued a report to the General Assembly in February 2012 that highlighted confusion between resale websites and venue box office websites as an area of consumer protection concern.