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    More than two dozen Taylor Swift fans sue Ticketmaster


    New York
    CNN Business
     — 

    Don’t mess with Swifties.

    More than two dozen Taylor Swift fans are suing Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. for “unlawful conduct” in the pop star’s chaotic tour sale, claiming the ticketing giant violated antitrust laws, among others.

    The lawsuit, filed in a California court on Friday, alleges Ticketmaster and its parent company were anti-competitive, imposing higher prices on fans in the presale, sale and resale market. It claims Ticketmaster forces concertgoers to exclusively use its site and controlled all registration and access to Swift’s “The Eras Tour.”

    The Swifties are seeking a penalty of $2,500 for each violation, which could add up, based on the millions of angered fans who did not receive tickets.

    The lawsuit also claimed that since Ticketmaster has agreements with the large stadiums in the tour, Swift “has no choice” but to work with Ticketmaster due to the size of her fan base. It also alleges that Ticketmaster profits off the resale of tickets in the secondary market by adding a service fee to its fan-to-fan exchange.

    “Ticketmaster is a monopoly that is only interested in taking every dollar it can from a captive public,” according to the lawsuit.

    Pre-sale tickets for “The Eras Tour” frustrated Swift fans across the country in a debacle that stayed in the headlines for weeks. In November, “Verified Fans” were sent a presale code — but when sales began, heavy demand snarled the website and millions of Swifties could not get their hands on a ticket. Presale tickets for Capital One card holders brought similar frustration — and then Ticketmaster canceled sales to the general public, citing “extraordinarily high demand” and “insufficient remaining ticket inventory.”

    The lawsuit alleges the company “intentionally and purposely mislead TaylorSwiftTix presale ticket holders by providing codes to 1.4 million ‘verified fans,’” despite the shortage of seats. Ticketmaster said more than two million tickets were sold on the first day of sales for her upcoming tour — the most ever sold for an artist in a single day.

    “Millions of fans waited up to eight hours and were unable to purchase tickets as a result of insufficient ticket releases,” the lawsuit said. “Ticketmaster intentionally provided codes when it could not satisfy demands.”

    The 26 Swifties suing the ticketing company are located across the country, from Utah to North Carolina. CNN has reached out to Ticketmaster for comment. Jennifer Kinder, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, said it is waiting acceptance by the clerk.

    Taylor Swift spoke out in a heartfelt post about the ticketing “mistakes,” writing on Instagram that there were a “multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time” getting tickets, and said the experience was “excruciating” for her to watch.

    In a blog post that has since been taken down, Ticketmaster said its “Verified Fans” system, a mechanism aimed at eliminating bots by giving presale codes to individuals, couldn’t keep up with the intense demand. Roughly 3.5 million people signed up for the program to buy Swift tickets, its “largest registration in history.” That unprecedented demand, combined with a “staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have invite codes” drove “unprecedented traffic” to its site, Ticketmaster said, and, essentially, broke it.

    Ticketmaster apologized to Swift and her fans for the “terrible experience” some had trying to purchase tickets and said it would work to “shore up our tech for the new bar that has been set by demand” for Swift’s tour.

    The ticketing debacle drew the ire of several lawmakers, including Senator Amy Klobuchar, head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, who wrote an open letter to Ticketmaster’s CEO, saying she has “serious concerns” about the company’s operations.

    In addition, the Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, a source told CNN, to determine whether the company has a monopoly in the market for concerts, including ticket purchasing.

    Live Nation responded Saturday in a statement posted to its website, saying it “takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously” and “does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices.”

    – CNN’s Frank Pallotta and Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.

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