Tennessee AG investigating Ticketmaster over Taylor Swift presale issues

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 10:03 AM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said he’s concerned about consumer complaints related to Ticketmaster’s presale of Taylor Swift’s “The Eras Tour” concert tickets.

In a video press conference Wednesday, Skrmetti said he is launching a consumer protection and anti-trust investigation into Ticketmaster after his office received numerous complaints following Tuesday’s presale debacle. There have been no allegations of misconduct at the time, he said, but added it is his job to investigate consumer complaints. Ticketmaster faced scrutiny again Thursday, after announcing it had canceled general ticket sales for Swift’s tour.

“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 Wednesday. “If it’s not a consumer protection (violation), but it’s an anti-trust law that is violated, there is a wide range of options that are available.”

Skrmetti said the scope of his investigation would include figuring out what Ticketmaster promised customers and whether the company delivered on its promise. Additionally, Skrmetti said he wants to investigate complaints regarding Ticketmaster’s alleged “severe lack of consumer support” during the concert ticket presale. Many fans reported they were told there would be a five-day wait for support during the Tuesday presale.

“I would hope the company is doing everything it can to make sure the customers, from today forward, have a much smoother and fairer experience,” Skrmetti said. “As an industry player, you think Ticketmaster would be well aware that these were probably going to be the most popular tickets or close to the most popular tickets they’ve ever had.”

Fans trying to get concert tickets for one of Swift’s three Nashville shows have dealt with countless issues, including the Ticketmaster website crashing and extremely long wait times. Many people that had presale codes found there were no tickets available for them when they finally got to the front of the virtual line.

“I could write my own Taylor Swift song with how hurt I was not getting tickets,” Samantha Deluca said.

She described the Ticketmaster website as a “nightmare” and had to give up on purchasing tickets on Tuesday morning because she had to leave for work.

“It’s so frustrating because all you want to do is see Taylor Swift,” Deluca said. “The prices are crazy, and you are willing to pay them, but being stuck in one place and nothing moving and nothing happening, it’s kind of crazy.”

Ticketmaster said Tuesday “unprecedented demand” had led to issues with its service as Taylor Swift fans flocked to its site for access to a presale.

In an update on Twitter, the ticket sales giant said millions had logged on. It asked people who were already in queues to “hang tight” as they process sales.

Ticketmaster released a full statement regarding the ticket issues on their website.

Many fans, including Hailey Killen and Elizabeth Gabbert, expressed disappointment on social media after waiting in a queue for hours.

“Now I’ve got my big girl job, I can buy my own tickets,” Killen said about not getting tickets. “So, I was excited. Now I’m just disappointed.”

Killen said she and her friends waited all day for their turn on the presale. They even used a dog monitor camera to keep an eye on their laptop. She said it was shocking Ticketmaster was not better prepared for the presale and did not have enough tickets for everyone that got a presale code.

“She’s Taylor Swift. You know she’s popular,” Killen said. “This is not a new thing.”

When it was Gabbert’s turn to select seats, she said all the available options kept disappearing before she could buy them. She described it as a scramble to find tickets for her group of friends to see their favorite artist on her first tour in years.

“I ended up in the nosebleeds,” Gabbert said. “But at the end of the day, I waited eight hours. I was not going to get out of that Ticketmaster without getting some tickets.”

Skrmetti said his office is also concerned about Ticketmaster profiting twice off the tickets. Ticketmaster sells the tickets but also facilitates resale. Some “scalpers” are reselling tickets through Ticketmaster for thousands of dollars, Skrmetti said.

“There is an incentive there for the company to profit twice off the sale of these tickets,” he said. “I am not saying it happened, but we are going to make absolutely sure it didn’t.”

WSMV4 found tickets for Swift’s Nashville shows listed on the secondary market for close to $19,000 per seat. The cheapest seat listed on StubHub was $46 per ticket, far above the $40 face value that was promoted when tickets were first announced.

Sophie Kloppel and her friend Erin Dolan moved to Nashville over the summer. They are both big Swift fans and said they were hopeful to get to see her perform in her hometown. However, when they did not get a presale code, they looked on resale sites and were disappointed they will not be able to go.

“We went back and looked today, and the prices increased to like $2,000 or something crazy in the nosebleeds,” Kloppel said. “We would never be able to afford that. We really wanted to see Taylor, obviously, so it was very disappointing.”

Ticketmaster did not respond to a WSMV4 request to comment on the Attorney General’s investigation.

“We need to look into exactly what was promised to (customers) and whether that was provided,” Skrmetti said.

Taylor Swift is set to perform in Nashville at Nissan Stadium May 5-7. Swift’s tour begins in Glendale, Arizona, on March 17.