Ticketmaster Fees Run into Scalping Law in Baltimore
Anyone that’s ever purchased a ticket from Ticketmaster knows they can expect a hefty fee tacked on to whatever the face value for the ticket is. And while that may be annoying in all areas of the country, it was ruled illegal in Baltimore.
Andre Bourgeois, a Maryland resident, filed a suit against Ticketmaster in 2011 after he was charged $12 in fees on top of the $52 ticket he bought to see Jackson Browne at the Lyric Opera House. Recently, the Maryland Supreme Court ruled that Ticketmaster’s fees violated a 1948 Baltimore ordinance barring anyone from charging fees more than 50 cents over the face value of the ticket. The ordinance was originally enacted to curb scalping at Navy football games.
“I don’t understand why the city would want to change a good law that protects its citizens,” said Bourgeois to the Baltimore Sun. “The law just means that the face price of the ticket has to be what the ticket actually costs.”
Jackson Browne was so impressed by Bourgeois’ lawsuit that he gave him free tickets for life for any of his upcoming shows. Others in Baltimore, however, were less impressed.
These included the Baltimore Ravens football team and the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, as well as other concert and entertainment venues in the city that use Ticketmaster to sell tickets to their events.
Today, the Baltimore City Council finance committee voted 3-1 to approve a new bill that exempts Ticketmaster and other ticket sellers from the 1948 law. The bill will go to vote by the full council later this month, and will allow unlimited user and convenience fees to be charged by the companies.
The suit claimed that Ticketmaster makes $1 billion each year in fees from $8 billion in ticket sales. Ticketmaster owner Live Nation agreed to pay $22.3 million to customers in California in a class action suit over fees in 2011.