NJ sues 3 over early sale of Boss tickets

May 28, 2009 3:54:37 AM PDT
The state attorney general on Wednesday sued three companies accused of selling tickets to upcoming Bruce Springsteen shows before they were available to the public.

The suits claim that the companies - Select-A-Ticket, Orbitz Worldwide and TicketNetwork Inc. - violated the states' Consumer Fraud Act by accepting money for the tickets even though they didn't possess them at the time of the sales and wouldn't have them until June 1.

"It is fraud to offer to sell a product that one does not possess, and may never possess, and I am committed to ending this deceptive practice," Attorney General Anne Milgram said Wednesday.

Orbitz and TicketNetwork also offered tickets through the Web site cheaptickets.com for seat locations that don't exist in Giants Stadium, one of the suits alleges.

The suits seek to stop the companies from offering the tickets and force them to refund customers' money. The complaint against Select-A-Ticket also seeks to revoke or suspend the company's New Jersey ticket broker license.

In a written statement, Vernon, Conn.-based TicketNetwork said it takes the attorney general's actions "very seriously" and is not currently selling tickets to Bruce Springsteen's performances at Giants Stadium. The company said it hopes to work with the attorney general's office "to ensure that industry transparency is achieved."

Brian Hoyt, a spokesman for Chicago-based Orbitz, said the company doesn't offer concert tickets directly to customers but instead partners with TicketNetwork.

"We will be speaking with them to find out what happened in this instance," Hoyt said.

Select-A-Ticket owner Thomas Patania defended his company's practices Wednesday and said it frequently offers "category" or "zone" seating for major events like the Super Bowl, in essence allowing customers to pay early for seats in general locations, then filling the orders once tickets become available.

"In our experience, we know we'll be able to fill those orders," Patania said. "We've never had a problem."

Springsteen announced last week that he would play the final concerts at Giants Stadium on Sept. 30, Oct. 2 and Oct. 3, before the stadium is torn down over the winter to make way for the new Giants Jets Stadium.

Tickets for the shows are to go on sale Monday, and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the stadium, said Wednesday that no tickets are being offered early as part of any promotion.

"There are no legitimate tickets on sale," the NJSEA said in a statement. "There is no pre-sale or fan club sale for these concerts. Concert fans need to be especially wary before tickets officially go on sale."

According to Wednesday's lawsuits, the three companies offered more than 1,000 tickets to the concerts for as high as $1,300, many times the tickets' face value of $33 to $98. Undercover investigators purchased some of the tickets.

Springsteen tickets were the focus of controversy this year when fans seeking tickets online to shows at the Izod Center, next to Giants Stadium, were redirected to a Ticketmaster subsidiary that charged up to 50 times the tickets' face value.

In February, Ticketmaster said the problems were due to a software glitch and reached an agreement with Milgram's office to change its online sales process. That agreement did not extend to other brokers or resale sites.

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