LN Sued Over Parking, Charity Fees

A class action suit has been filed in U.S. District Court accusing Live Nation of abusing its power by charging ticketholders for parking whether sufficient parking was available and in some instances tacking on fees for charities it does not identify.

Live Nation announced in March it was adding a parking surcharge to all tickets to the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J. Some concertgoers complained to the New York Daily News that the surcharge discouraged carpooling. Live Nation said it promoted faster entrance into the venue.

“The charge is calculated based on our research that the average music fan comes to PNC with two people in their car,” Live Nation spokesman John Vlautin told Pollstar at the time. “This fee (formerly called a facility fee) has always been in place at the venue, and in fact was lowered by 8 percent in 2007.”

Clifford Davidson filed the suit Oct. 23 in Trenton, N.J. In the complaint, he denounces having to be forced to pay the parking fee and an additional fee for an undisclosed charity.

The parking fee, according to the complaint, is charged whether there is sufficient space and cannot be declined or limited to one charge per carload of concertgoers.

Davidson claims that once Live Nation decided to expand its platform into ticketing, it “promoted shows but had not infrastructure to sell tickets and it’s contracted out to Ticketmaster or others to sell them,” according to the complaint. “Nonetheless Live Nation participated in fee and surcharges imposed on tickets sold through Ticketmaster.”

Other facilities in the area charge per-car fees, including Nassau Coliseum ($7 per car) and Meadowlands ($15 per car), while Jones Beach does not charge for parking, the complaint alleges.

It also accused Live Nation of deceiving ticket buyers by removing the charge from its Web site but continuing to include the fee on ticket purchase checkout before eventually restoring the more visible notice.

“Live Nation’s duplicity and propensity for deception in March 2009 when Live Nation, under public pressure of its $6 per ticket parking charge, eliminated the ‘parking charge’ from its website but added it back to the ticket price. After being questioned by a reporter from the New York Daily News, Live Nation added back the parking charge,” the complaint says.

Live Nation violates New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act “by engaging in unconscionable commercial practices,” the complaint charges.

Davidson seeks class status to include those who purchased tickets to events promoted by Live Nation at venues in New Jersey that included mandatory parking fees during the past six years.

The suit claims that Live Nation made more than $5 million by overcharging tens of thousands of concertgoers, and seeks unspecified treble damages and attorneys fees.

Vlautin was not immediately available for further comment.