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Ticketmaster faces mounting scrutiny after Taylor Swift ticket chaos

Sen. Amy Klobuchar expressed “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry," while Tennessee’s attorney general launched a probe after its website crashed as fans raced to buy tickets to the star’s Eras tour.

Ticketmaster is facing mounting scrutiny, including from lawmakers and state authorities, over its sale practices after outcry from Taylor Swift fans over website outages and long waits to buy tickets for her coming Eras tour. 

In a letter to Michael Rapino, the president and CEO of Ticketmaster's parent company, Live Nation Entertainment Inc., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., expressed “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers.”

“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services,” said Klobuchar, who is the chair of a Senate subcommittee on antitrust issues. “That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.”

She asked Rapino a string of questions, including how much the company has spent to upgrade technology to handle surges in demand and what percentage of high-profile tour tickets get reserved for presales. Ticketmaster and Live Nation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tennessee's attorney general has separately said he is launching an investigation after his office was flooded with complaints over Ticketmaster's website's crashing Tuesday as Swift fans, known as "Swifties," raced to buy tickets for the Eras tour.

"Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is concerned about consumer complaints related to @Ticketmaster. He and his Consumer Protection team will use every available tool to ensure that no consumer protection laws were violated," Skrmetti's tweeted Wednesday.

Skrmetti said at a news conference Wednesday he was launching an antitrust probe after the presale debacle prompted widespread frustration, NBC affiliate WSMV of Nashville reported.

Skrmetti said no direct allegations of misconduct had been made, but he said it was his job to investigate consumer complaints.

“If it’s a consumer protection violation and we can find exactly where the problems are, we can get a court order that makes the company do better. That makes sure the problems that happened yesterday don’t happen again,” Skrmetti said, according to WSMV. “If it’s not a consumer protection [violation] but it’s an antitrust law that is violated, there is a wide range of options that are available.”

Skrmetti said the investigation would include determining what Ticketmaster had promised customers and whether it delivered on the promise.

He said he also had concerns about Ticketmaster's profiting twice off ticket sales, as the website also facilitates ticket resales.

“There is an incentive there for the company to profit twice off the sale of these ticket,” he said, according to WSMV. “I am not saying it happened, but we are going to make absolutely sure it didn’t.” Skrmetti's office did not respond to a request early Thursday for further comment.

Ticketmaster said in a statement Tuesday on Twitter that the presale ticket crash happened after its website was met with "historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets for the TaylorSwiftTix Presale."

Swift’s U.S. tour, which launches in March in Arizona and ends in August in Los Angeles, has 52 concert dates; Swift recently added 17 dates to the original tour announcement.