Ticketmaster is facing mounting scrutiny, including from lawmakers and state authorities, over its sale practices after outcry from Taylor Swift fans over website outages and long waits to buy tickets for the singer’s upcoming “Eras” tour.
In a letter addressed to Michael Rapino, the president and CEO of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment Inc., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., expressed, “serious concerns about the state of competition in the ticketing industry and its harmful impact on consumers.”
“Ticketmaster’s power in the primary ticket market insulates it from the competitive pressures that typically push companies to innovate and improve their services,” said Klobuchar, who is chair of a Senate subcommittee on antitrust issues. “That can result in the types of dramatic service failures we saw this week, where consumers are the ones that pay the price.”
In the letter, the lawmaker asked Rapino to answer a string of questions, including how much the company has spent to upgrade technology to handle surges in demand and what percentage of high-profile tour tickets get reserved for presales. Ticketmaster and Live Nation did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.
Tennessee’s attorney general has separately said he is launching an investigation into Ticketmaster after his office was flooded with complaints over the ticket company’s website crashing Tuesday as Swift fans, known as “Swifties” raced to buy tickets for the “Eras” tour.
“Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is concerned about consumer complaints related to @Ticketmaster. He and his Consumer Protection team will use every available tool to ensure that no consumer protection laws were violated,” Skrmetti’s office said in a tweet Wednesday.
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, Skrmetti said he was launching an anti-trust probe into Ticketmaster after the presale debacle prompted widespread frustration, NBC affiliate WSMV, based in Nashville, reported.
Skrmetti said no direct allegations of misconduct had been made against Ticketmaster, but he said it was his job to investigate consumer complaints.
“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, according to WSMV. “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 his investigation would include determining what Ticketmaster had promised customers and whether the company delivered on its promise.
The attorney general said he also had concerns about Ticketmaster profiting twice off ticket sales, with the website also facilitating ticket resales.
“There is an incentive there for the company to profit twice off the sale of these ticket,” he said, according to WSMV. “I am not saying it happened, but we are going to make absolutely sure it didn’t.” Skrmetti’s office did not respond to a request early Thursday from NBC News for further comment.
In a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday, Ticketmaster said the presale ticket crash happened after its website saw a “historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets for the TaylorSwiftTix Presale.”
Rob Wile and Morgan Sung contributed.