TicketNetwork Settles FTC Complaint

TicketNetwork and two of its partners have agreed to settle a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission and state of Connecticut alleging the companies used misleading advertisements to sell marked-up tickets on reseller sites. Under terms of the deal, the companies will pay $1.4 million and are banned from using deceptive advertising to resell tickets. 

“With today’s settlements, the FTC and the Connecticut Attorney General’s office send a strong message to all online ticket sellers that they must clearly disclose who they are and what they are offering,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “These are basic rules of the road for marketers of any product or service, and consumers deserve no less.”

The complaint took issue with the way TicketNetwork and marketing partners Ryadd and SBO identified themselves to consumers, alleging they misrepresented they were the “‘official’ site or ‘box office’ for the actual venue where an event was being held.”

One ad cited by the FTC featured the slogan “official ticket source online for  tickets in NY.”

Consumers who clicked on the ad were taken to a website titled Radio City Music Hall that featured photos and text designed to look like the official venue website. Instead, it was a Ryadd site offering resale tickets for higher prices, the FTC said.

An SBO ad allegedly used a similar approach, directing consumers to a website that appeared to be the official site for the Providence Performing Arts Center, but was actually an SBO site reselling tickets.

Because of this, the FTC claimed “Ryadd and SBO routinely misrepresented their resale ticket sites as actual venue sites; failed to adequately disclose that the sites offered tickets for resale and that prices often exceeded the tickets’ face value; and that the websites were neither owned by the venue, sports team, performer, or promoter, nor authorized to sell tickets on their behalf.” TicketNetwork participated in and profited from the misleading marketing by helping to create the ads, providing legal cover, and maintaining “the deception by defusing complaints and bad publicity, among other means,” the FTC alleges.

TicketNetwork Spokesman Darnell Goldson called the settlement “a positive resolution.”

“We determined that a settlement was the most appropriate action to take to resolve the matter,” he said. “This decision was reached to avoid engaging in lengthy litigation, which would have been distracting, extremely expensive, and could have slowed our phenomenal growth.”

TicketNetwork will pay $750,000, Ryadd owes $550,000 and SBO will shell out $100,000 to the state of Connecticut.

The agreement prohibits the companies from using the word “official” in their advertising and on their websites, and says they must disclose their websites as resale sites not owned by venues, sports teams, performers or promoters.