The Tragically Hip perform in 2009. The band’s final tour in 2016 sparked renewed public outcry across Canada about ticket ‘bots’ snapping up event tickets and reselling them for a profit. (Scott Alexander/Wikimedia Commons)

The Tragically Hip perform in 2009. The band’s final tour in 2016 sparked renewed public outcry across Canada about ticket ‘bots’ snapping up event tickets and reselling them for a profit. (Scott Alexander/Wikimedia Commons)

B.C. man’s lawsuit over Ticketmaster, StubHub can proceed, judge rules

Class action on behalf of people who lost out due to ‘ticket bots’

A B.C. man’s lawsuit over ticket resellers jacking up prices for live events has taken a step forward in B.C. Supreme Court.

David Gomel is suing TicketMaster and associated companies in a class action on behalf of all B.C. residents who bought event tickets for personal use from resellers between Jan. 25, 2010 and Sept. 18, 2018. It’s one of a series of similar class action lawsuits, and Gomel alleges that Ticketmaster isn’t doing enough to stop scalpers from using “bots” to scoop up tickets within seconds of them going on sale.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen ruled this week that Gomel’s lawsuit can proceed, refusing a procedural motion by Ticketmaster lawyers to stay the action until Saskatchewan case involving multiple provinces can be decided. Ticketmaster has not yet filed a statement of defence in the B.C. case.

Gomel’s case is based on his purchase of a concert ticket from a secondary seller, StubHub, which was originally sold by Ticketmaster.

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“Broadly put, the essential claim is that Ticketmaster represents on its website, at the time of initial sale of all tickets, that there are purchasing limits in place for the number of tickets per customer, and that such limits ensure fairness and prevent purchasers from purchasing a large number of tickets for resale,” Tammen wrote in a decision released this week.

“The notice of civil claim alleges that Ticketmaster has, contrary to the representations on its website, actively developed and marketed software called TradeDesk, which facilitates and encourages the use of ‘ticket bots.’ Ticket bots are automated software programs used to allow one purchaser to purchase a large number of tickets online.”

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth passed legislation in the spring of 2019 aimed at preventing mass-buying software for live event tickets. The law requires clear disclosure of ticket prices, refund guarantees by secondary sellers and declarations by them that they are not the original ticket provider. Enforcing such rules is hampered by ticket resellers operating outside of the province.

The B.C. government hosted an online questionnaire in March 2018 on the subject. Of the 6,507 people who responded, 96 per cent reported live event tickets selling out quickly, and nearly 60 per cent said they had seen tickets offered by a secondary seller before the primary seller made them available.


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