Canadian lawyers have launched a 500 million Canadian dollar ($411 million) class-action lawsuit against Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., saying the company sells tickets above face value in contravention of provincial anti-scalping laws.
The lawsuit was filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Monday on behalf of Henryk Krajewski, a Toronto management consultant who bought two tickets to a Smashing Pumpkins concert in November for CA$533.65 including service charges from Ticketmaster subsidiary TicketsNow.
The tickets would have cost CA$133 on Ticketmaster's main Web site but despite waiting for the sale time, the man was instantly redirected to the higher-priced tickets on TicketsNow, said Jay Strosberg, a lawyer from one of two firms bringing the case.
Ontario law forbids selling tickets above face value, he said.
"We know what it's like to try to get tickets and then you can't because they're sold out in 10 seconds," he said.
Similar complaints were made last week by Bruce Springsteen fans who were redirected to TicketsNow, and two New York-area members of Congress are demanding an investigation.
After Springsteen himself complained about the TicketsNow markup, Ticketmaster Chief Executive Irving Azoff apologized and said the company would no longer direct fans to the subsidiary.
A Ticketmaster spokesman did not respond immediately to a message seeking comment.
The lawsuit, filed by law firms Sutts Strosberg LLP and Branch McMaster, comes as Ticketmaster is about to announce a proposed merger with concert promoter Live Nation Inc., according to a person familiar with the situation.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter publicly.
Industry analysts said the proposed merger of the two live entertainment giants raises antitrust concerns for both artists and fans.
The lawsuit seeks to include anyone who purchased tickets for an event in Ontario from Ticketmaster or through TicketsNow.com since Feb. 9, 2007, the oldest date for joining the suit within the statutory time limit.