Misleading online listing caused gross overpayment for tickets to the Book of Mormon
On October 16, 2013, I ordered 2 tickets for the February 13, 2014, show of Book of Mormon at the Pantages theater in Los Angeles for a total of $294.95.
In October, tickets for The Book of Mormon were still fairly available through the official ticket seller, Ticketmaster. I compared prices for center Orchestra seats (the best seats available) with listings on Razorgator, an after market ticket marketplace. Some tickets towards the rear of the center Orchestra section were available from Ticketmaster for about $180 each. And tickets for the rear of the center of the Mezzanine were available for $108. Meanwhile, for about $150 each, tickets for the very first row of the Mezzanine section were listed on Razorgator. This was a sizable but fair markup on the $108 Ticketmaster was charging for remaining seats from the center of the Mezzanine.
I opted to spend a little less than the Orchestra seats and a little more than centered, back row Mezzanine seats to get what I expected to be seats in the front row of the center section of the Mezzanine. I am confident the listing on Razorgator either implied or explicitly noted the Mezzanine tickets were in the center section. Unfortunately, the tickets I received were located in the far left section of the Mezzanine the cheapest seats in the house available from Ticketmaster for less than $50.
To be clear: somehow I was misled into paying $150 for something I could essentially still officially buy for $50.
According to **** at Razorgator's customer service line, the sales listing specified only that the seats were on the Mezzanine level and did not list a particular section. Unfortunately, their website does not allow me to look back to October to see the details of my order or in what context the listing appeared. Moreover, my email correspondence from Razorgator contains no additional details about my order beyond the event name, price, and number of tickets. In other words, I have a suspicious lack of evidence to refute their claims that the ticket listing I purchased did not offer any indication they were in the center section.
Had it been clear from the sales listing that the specific location of the seats was not known, I would not have completed the purchase. Certainly, had the listing clearly stated the tickets were for the far left end of the Mezzanine, I would not have completed the purchase. Either Razorgator or the seller they represented misled me, intentionally or accidentally, and provided tickets that were technically similar to the sales listing but with a dramatically lower value.
To resolve this issue I would like:
1) a full refund
2) listings on Razorgator's site to clearly state when seat location has not been specifically provided to allow future customers to make informed buying decisions
3) email confirmations to contain line item details about each ticket sale, including specific ticket descriptions and additional notes from the seller
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The tickets purchased by this customer were not misrepresented. The listing of the seats on our website indicated "Mezz Row A," which was correct. The cusomter assumed that the seats were in the center section, but a seat map of the venue shows clearly that Miezzanine Row A covers the sides as well as the center section. Razorgator gave no description of the tickets other than "Mezz Row A."
The customer also expresses dissatisfaction with the price of the tickets compared to their location. Prices of tickets are set by the sellers, not by Razorgator, and these prices can vary considerably depending on circumstances. Razogator works in the secondary market, and its function is simply to connect sellers and buyers, for which Razorgator collects a connection fee. This fee, as well as the price of the tickets and all relevant taxes and delivery charges is clearly set forth on the final screen before the customer presses the "buy" icon. We are sorry that the customer was dissatisfied with his tickets, but they were not misrepresented.
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
The legal definition of fraud is: a false representation of a matter of fact whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or **by concealment of what should have been disclosed** that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.
Actual fraud requires proof of intent. The seller must knowingly choose to hide information from potential customers to cause harm. I cannot prove the seller's intent and neither can Razorgator. Therefore, their suggestion that "The tickets purchased by this customer were not misrepresented" is not accurate; it is a guess. If the seller intentionally chose not to include clarifying information regarding the location of his or her seats to draw a better price, then the listing is a misrepresentation by omission.
It is now clear that Razorgator allows sellers to post generic listings. Meanwhile, competing secondary markets like StubHub enforce more specificity. Additionally, services like SeatGeek display the following warning when adding tickets with an unspecified location to the shopping cart: "because ticket sellers often don't include specific seat information in their listings, tickets may be located in any part of the indicated row."
Other secondary markets tend to stand by their customers when sellers use their services to trick customers into overpaying. For example, eBay recently pulled down one of my friend's auctions until he could professionally authenticate the item. And it's pretty easy to find news stories about eBay refunding customers when they buy some gadget and receive a picture of the gadget instead. (e.g www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-XXXXXXX/Father-receives-photo-XBox-One-duped-Ebay.html)
Lastly, Razorgator's statement suggesting the "seat map of the venue shows clearly that Miezzaninesp Row A covers the sides as well as the center section" is entirely subjective. What's clear to an employee of Razorgator may not be clear to every customer. When paired with listings that include only "MEZZ RIGHT," "MEZZ LEFT," and "MEZZ," and no additional clarifications or warnings, it is easy to mistakenly assume "MEZZ" implies centered as I did. Unlike competing services like StubHub, the Razorgator website does nothing to highlight the venue map as customers hover over sales listings. Worse, Razorgator sometimes recommends non-specific listings with a star icon. The 8:00pm show on April 5 (Book of Mormon at the Pantages) currently shows a "MEZZ" listing (among a sea of "MEZZ LEFT" and "MEZZ RIGHT" listings) recommended by Razorgator.
This is my fourth time using Razorgator and I placed trust in their 100% Guarantee and grade A rating from the Better Business Bureau. I expected that if something went wrong, Razorgator would stand by a valued customer like other recognizable secondary markets do. Disappointingly, I continue to be dissatisfied with their handling of this situation.
Final Business Response
It appears that the basic complaint of this customer is that he assumed "Mezz Row A" meant "Center Mezz Row A," even though the venue map shows that "Mez Row A" includes the sides as well as the center of the row.
When Razorgator lists tickets on its website, it must rely on the information supplied by the seller, since Razorgator is a secondary marketer and does not have the actual tickets. In this case, the information supplied by the seller was correct, but the buyer made an assumption about the location which was not warranted by the description. We are indeed sorry for this customer's disappointment, but the tickets were as advertised. We also cannot subscribe to the customer's contention that the seat map is "subjective." On the contrary, the seat map is an objective representation of the seating at the venue, and has been constantly in use by theatre patrons and businesses for years.
Final Consumer Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
The business seems to repeatedly state two points:
1. The ticket listing was "correct" or technically "accurate" because it specified only "MEZZ" and not "MEZZ Center"
2. It's the seller's responsibility to provide information and details regarding each ticket listing
Imagine a weather service that forecasts this coming Saturday will be a cloudy day. You have plans for an outdoor event this Saturday. A cloudy sky isn't ideal, but it's not a showstopper; the event will go on as planned. But when Saturday arrives, it's pouring rain and the event is a catastrophe.
The weather service, despite calculating near certain rain in the forecast, failed to mention the storm in their public report. The report was "correct" and technically "accurate," the storm brought with it a cloudy day, but omitted critical facts that would help improve your event planning decisions.
Would you be satisfied with a weather report that habitually reported cloudy days and failed to mention a strong chance of rain? You would probably switch to a more forthcoming reporting service.
Similarly, RazorGator finds it acceptable to allow sellers to be vague about the locations of their ticket listings. While "MEZZ" is "correct" it quietly omits critical information that is essential to making buying decisions. As I mentioned before, fraud can be either the inclusion of misleading facts or the intentional omission of material facts to, for example, boost the perceived value of tickets. Being "correct" and incomplete is still misleading.
All secondary markets for event tickets "must rely on the information supplied by the seller." The largest player in the market, StubHub, does a much better job at limiting a seller's ability or desire to omit key facts about the tickets they wish to sell. Nearly 100% of listings on StubHub for the Pantages theater specify a section of the venue. Vague or unusual listings are pushed to the bottom of search results and flagged as unspecific or unrecognized locations. Sellers on StubHub are disincentivized from omitting crucial facts.
Meanwhile, RazorGator plays the man in the middle game, pointing fingers at their sellers and customers while featuring and even recommending vague listings and being complicit in a seller's ability to use their service as a tool for committing fraud. As others evolve their software and services to make the secondary market more fair and useful, RazorGator simply rests on what's been "constantly in use by theatre patrons and businesses for years."
I continue to find RazorGator's oft-repeated arguments flimsy and unsatisfactory. I still expect a full refund and updates to their website that discourage sellers from being vague in their ticket listings to prevent my honest mistake from happening to someone else.