Ticketmaster, NJ settle over Springsteen ticket sales

WASHINGTON Mon Feb 23, 2009 10:28pm GMT

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WASHINGTON Feb 23 (Reuters) - Ticketmaster TKTM.O settled with New Jersey to resolve more than 2,000 complaints over the company's handling of ticket sales to see Bruce Springsteen concerts, the New Jersey attorney general's office said on Monday.

The Springsteen uproar exploded just days before Ticketmaster announced that it would buy Live Nation, the world's largest promoting company which had been trying to enter the ticket sales market.

The problems gave the ticketing giant a public relations black eye just as the Justice Department was set to begin probing the merger to assess its legality under antitrust law.

Under the terms of the New Jersey settlement, Ticketmaster must place a virtual wall between itself and its more expensive subsidiary TicketsNow and confirm that all tickets it receives for sale are in fact sold on Ticketmaster.

Under the settlement, there will be a random drawing to choose 1,000 people who will each be allowed to buy two tickets for Springsteen concerts in New Jersey in May. All Ticketmaster fees will be waived.

The 1,000 people will be chosen from the more than 2,000 who complained about a variety of problems, including being told by Ticketmaster that the concert was sold out and then redirected to TicketsNow and offered more expensive tickets.

On TicketsNow, Springsteen tickets with a face value of $65 or $95 ranged in price from $200 to $5,000.

Other Springsteen fans complained of problems such as being charged for tickets but not receiving them.

Those who bought tickets on TicketsNow within five hours of when tickets went on sale will get a refund equal to the difference between what they paid and the ticket's face value.

The losers in the ticket-buying lottery will get a $100 gift certificate from Ticketmaster and be allowed to buy two tickets to a future Springsteen concert in New Jersey before they go on general sale.

Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, has also said that his office is looking into the debacle, with his office on Monday saying that his probe remained active.

"My office will carefully review New Jersey's settlement with Ticketmaster to determine whether it fully addresses complaints raised by Connecticut consumers," Blumenthal's office said in a statement.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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