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State attorney general targeting speculative Springsteen tickets sales

The office of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has launched an effort to crack down on speculative ticket sales on the Internet for a series of upcoming Bruce Springsteen concerts, including one at First Niagara Center in February.

Letters have been sent to officials of StubHub, TicketNetwork and Vivid Seats Ltd., directing them to review ticket listings for the Springsteen shows and to remove all the ones that are speculative.

The letters from Assistant Attorney General Jordan Adler to StubHub and Vivid Seats remind the companies that they “strictly prohibit” such listings. He asked representatives from all three companies to meet in the attorney general’s Internet Bureau offices in New York City to discuss “a number of issues relevant to our inquiry.”

The letters state that hundreds of tickets for Springsteen concerts in New York City, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, announced last Friday, were listed online for resale on Sunday, five days before they are officially offered to the public this Friday.

“Many of these listings offer tickets for sale at more than $1,000 per ticket, but some are much higher than that,” Adler wrote.

He noted that the most expensive tickets were listed at more than $2,900 for the Times Union Center Feb. 8 in Albany, more than $3,800 for First Niagara Center Feb. 25 in Buffalo, $5,000 for Blue Cross Arena Feb. 27 in Rochester and more than $6,200 for Madison Square Garden Jan. 24 and Jan. 27 in New York City.

Adler observed that speculative resellers offer tickets that they do not have, then find them and provide them at a profit. Sometimes, however, they simply take their customers’ money.

“In many cases,” Adler wrote, “consumers who purchase a speculative ticket do not receive the seats that were advertised and paid for. In some cases, consumers receive no tickets at all. Speculative ticket sales also drive up prices for consumers, and cause widespread confusion and frustration among consumers, who wonder how tickets can appear on the resale market before tickets are released to the public.”

There were widespread complaints about Internet ticket sales for the Paul McCartney concert Oct. 22 in First Niagara Center and the Rolling Stones appearance in Ralph Wilson Stadium in July. For those shows, secondary ticket sellers snapped up tickets before ordinary fans could buy them, then offered them for resale for huge markups.

In September, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., came to First Niagara Center to announce that he was introducing federal legislation to crack down on the use of sophisticated robotic computer programs employed by secondary ticket sellers. Although New York State prohibits the use of bots by ticket sellers, online ticket transactions often involve operators in other states where they are not illegal.

email: danderson@buffnews.com

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