Scalping Suit Names Ticketers

At least 16 ticket agencies are being named in a Massachusetts lawsuit that claims they are gouging consumers by reselling ducats to concerts and sporting events in violation of the state’s anti-scalping law.

The suit claims licensed ticket agents routinely violate state law, which bars the resale of tickets for more than $2 above face value plus any legitimate service charges.

Most of the defendants are based in Massachusetts. However, one out-of-state reseller named is San Francisco-based StubHub. According to its Web site, the company has had partnerships with several professional sports teams and well-known artists including Coldplay, Madonna, Britney Spears, Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, John Mayer, Clay Aiken, Snoop Dogg and more.

An industry source familiar with the lawsuit told Pollstar that ticketers can’t run a legitimate business and scalp at the same time.

“You can’t be a two-headed beast,” the source said. “Either you’re going to represent the teams, abide by the scalping laws and resell tickets in an authorized manner … or you’re going to be a scalper.”

StubHub spokesman Sean Pate said the company hadn’t seen a copy of the lawsuit and therefore couldn’t comment on it. But he did tell Pollstar this:

“In order to sell tickets on StubHub, sellers must accept our terms of service, agree to comply with all applicable local, state, federal and international laws, statutes and regulations regarding the selling value of the tickets.”

David Kurzman is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status. Kurzman purchased two ducats to the October 1st Red Sox / Yankees baseball game at Fenway Park for $375 each plus fees from Ace Ticket Worldwide. The face value for each ticket was $40.

The company also included a note with the tickets saying, “If you are asked where the tickets came from, please say they were a gift or that someone gave them to you,” according to the lawsuit.

Jim Holzman, president of Ace Tickets, told Pollstar he didn’t know anything about that and, at this point, it’s just an allegation.

Kurzman’s attorney, David G. Thomas, said the company clearly violated the anti-scalping law.

“The law states they cannot charge more than $2 for each sale for profit,” Thomas told Pollstar. “In our belief, what Ace Tickets does – and if you look at their Web site they almost admit to this – is they pass on the cost from their vendors. They’re not supposed to do that.”

Holzman said his company is operating within the confines of the law.

“Ace Tickets has been in business since 1979 providing a service to our customers,” he said. “We’re the leader in the Boston market and we’ll continue doing what we’ve always done.

“Unfortunately, anybody can sue anybody at any time for anything. It doesn’t mean anybody is right or anybody is wrong.”

The legal action is seeking to recoup allegedly improper mark-ups for tickets and attorneys’ fees plus punitive damages.

The Massachusetts Public Safety Office, which licenses ticket resellers in the state, reportedly said it has never disciplined a company for overcharging for ducats.

Katy Ford, a spokeswoman for the office, described the anti-scalping law as a “mess” and added that “no one is complying with the letter of the law,” according to The Boston Globe.

Ford reportedly added that Commissioner Thomas Gatzunis plans to gather all parties with an interest in the law to discuss whether it needs to be redrafted or even discarded.

Mitchell Peters