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Ticketmaster settles rewards lawsuit for $23M

LOS ANGELES » Ticketmaster has agreed to settle claims for up to $23 million over a lawsuit affecting more than a million people who, after buying a ticket online, were enrolled in a rewards program that cost $9 a month but never gave them any benefits.

U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer in Los Angeles approved the settlement last week.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Adam Gutride said affected customers will be sent an email today with a link to a website where they can file a claim. Each customer can get up to $30.

About 1.12 million people are eligible to file a claim. They signed up for the rewards program after buying a ticket at Ticketmaster.com between September 2004 and June 2009. The plaintiffs argued that they didn’t know about the fees, which were charged to the credit or debit card used to buy the ticket.

Gutride said this kind of aggressive marketing was common on the Internet around that time.

"People have gotten more savvy about these things," Gutride said. "This was early on. That’s why so many people were duped."

Of the people who enrolled in the program, 93 percent didn’t redeem any of the online coupons for which they were charged, he said.

The defendants included Ticketmaster, its parent at the time, IAC/InterActiveCorp, and Entertainment Publications Inc. Ticketmaster is now part of Live Nation Entertainment Inc. after a January 2010 merger.

The defendants said in settlement documents that the Entertainment Rewards program fully disclosed the terms and conditions, including the monthly fee, and said there was no basis for a class action suit. The original lawsuit dates back to January 2007. Under the settlement, the defendants don’t acknowledge any wrongdoing.

Ticketmaster said in a statement that it had significant insurance coverage and expects its policies to cover its portion of the liability.

"We are looking forward to putting this case — that stems from several years ago, prior to Ticketmaster’s merger with Live Nation — behind us so we can resume our focus on delivering the best possible ticket buying experience for fans," it said.

The plaintiffs said the affected customers paid about $85 million, or $75.89 each, for the program. It took the average person about eight months to cancel the monthly payments.

Although each person can claim $30, the payout may be reduced if too many people sign up, since the settlement caps payouts at $23 million. That includes about $4 million in legal fees.

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