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June 27, 2016

Ticketmaster Settlement Fine Print Trips Up Many

Filed under: Business,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:06 am

TicketmasterLast week, Ticketmaster began issuing $386 million in vouchers to some 50 million previous ticket buyers as part of a class action settlement. The company had allegedly failed to disclose all the details of the order processing and UPS fees they charged at Ticketmaster.com between 1999 and 2013.

Everyone who bought tickets during this period is being given a $2.25 credit per ticket (for up to 17 tickets) that can be used toward a future show. They are also being given a $5 UPS voucher for each time they used UPS for ticket delivery. The big thing that caught everyone’s attention, however, was receiving a voucher good for two free general admission tickets (up to 17 such vouchers) for certain Live Nation concert events “subject to availability.”

Beneficiaries of the settlement soon began complaining loudly that all the concerts that were being offered where they could redeem their vouchers for free tickets were sold out quickly. And the concerts being offered free were often second-rate, and with none available in 24 states.

How could this happen? Ticketmaster initially only made available $5 million worth of tickets available. Assuming each one had a normal selling price of a mere $25 (a very conservative price), that means only 200,000 tickets were available. And since each person could get a minimum of two free tickets, only 100,000 of the 50 million class members could be satisfied. Ticketmaster quickly added another $5 million worth of tickets to the pool (200,000 free tickets in our example), but those have been all but snapped already too. Now they are promising a new infusion of free tickets.

*MOUSE PRINT:

In fact, according to the actual settlement agreement, after the initial $5 million in free tickets, Ticketmaster only has to provide comparatively few tickets and only for the events of its own choosing.

Live Nation will arrange for at least 100 tickets at each event to be made available to the Class Members free of charge for at least 60% of the events that take place at Live Nation owned or operated amphitheaters.

There is overall only a $42 million minimum expenditure that Ticketmaster has to make during the years of the settlement, and if not enough vouchers are redeemed in any year, they have to pony up more free tickets to make up the difference.

From a practical standpoint, class members should not expect to receive any free tickets to shows, and no more than a couple of bucks off any ticket they actually purchase.




 

 

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May 9, 2016

Is it a TV Show or is it Advertising?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

Most people can tell the difference between a television show and an infomercial made to look like a TV show. More subtle is advertising within television shows or movies, such as when a product is shown casually on screen (“product placement”).

A TV program that aired last week pushed the concept of product placement to a new level. Here is a 30-second clip from Modern Family, where one of its main characters, a real estate agent, laments being outclassed at career day at his daughter’s school by a periodontist.



Click play button

What 99 and 44/100ths percent of viewers don’t realize is that spiel by actor Ty Burrell was actually an advertisement.

*MOUSE PRINT:

Realtor credit

That’s right, at the end of the program, about three seconds before the screen goes black, viewers learn that the National Association of Realtors paid ABC for that little explanation that not all real estate brokers are “realtors.” (See story.)

We don’t know much ABC got paid for including that in their program, but it frankly seems a bit manipulative of the audience to have subtle advertising masquerading as program content. What do you think?




 

 

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April 11, 2016

This University Educates Crooks

Filed under: Internet,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:22 am

It seemed like a fine school. The University of Northern New Jersey had both undergraduate and graduate programs. It specialized in business administration, computer science, and health sciences. It was accredited by two organizations and maintained an elaborate website for students and prospective students.

Hertz

 

The school had its own Facebook page:

Facebook unnj

 

The university was recognized by the state of New Jersey’s Department of Higher Education:

Dept. of Higher Ed

 

There was just one problem.

*MOUSE PRINT:

The university was fake. It was set up as a sting operation in 2012 by Homeland Security to catch scamsters who forged documents and paid bribes to get foreign students admitted. That would then qualify the foreign student to gain entry into the U.S. via a fraudulently obtained student visa.

Here is the story from the New York Times (click top link on redirect page).




 

 

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April 30, 2012

The Catch in Consumer Reports’ $12 Subscription Offer

Filed under: Internet,Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:53 am

Consumer Reports is advertising one of the most amazing offers they have ever made for a one-year subscription — only $12.

Here’s the webpage promoting the offer:

What you can’t see clearly in this miniaturized version of the webpage above is a potentially expensive catch on the left side:

*MOUSE PRINT:

The above fine print is shown actual size, and indicates that your subscription will renew every year unless you stop it, and you will be charged the then current regular subscription price, probably in the $26-$29 range.

Although another disclosure is made on the final checkout page in similarly small type, it would have been nice of this pro-consumer organization to more clearly and boldly disclose the continuing nature of the subscription at a much higher price.




 

 

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April 23, 2012

Fine Print Trips Up Storage Warrior

Filed under: Uncategorized — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:49 am

Riding the wave of two popular TV programs about auctioning off the contents of unclaimed storage lockers (“Storage Wars” and “Auction Hunters”), Mouse Print* reader Tony P. recently found himself in a storage war of his own.

Back in 2004, Tony stored nearly 40 years of household goods in a five-foot by 10-foot storage room in New York. He paid about $125 a month to the storage company, now known as Storage Deluxe, LLC. To make sure he didn’t forget a payment, and risk having his goods auctioned off as they do on these TV shows, he had his credit card automatically charged every month.

In August 2009, Tony went to the storage facility and tried to get into his locker. To his horror, he discovered that all his stuff had been removed, and either sold or discarded. When he confronted the company, they said “someone” had come in during December 2008, and had signed a form closing down the unit. The signature was not Tony’s. And it appears that this mystery person never unloaded the locker, but rather the company did, without any notification to Tony. All his stuff was gone.

Tony went to court, suing the storage company for some $80,000 in losses, $21,000 of which he could document with receipts, claiming breach of contract, gross negligence, and violation of New York’s storage law. The judge issued his decision just a couple of weeks ago, ruling mostly against Tony, and relying on fine print in the original contract:

*MOUSE PRINT:

The judge took this clause to mean that the storage facility was only liable for up to $5000 since the renter was not allowed to store anything of greater value in the locker without permission. And since the minimum amount his court had jurisdiction over was $15,000, the judge kicked the case back to a lower district court.

With all due respect to this judge, this clause said nothing about the storage company being liable or not liable for losses of only a certain amount. (And another New York court apparently previously had struck down this clause as an impermissible limitation on liability.)

So Tony is left without his stuff, but has lawyer bills that will eat up most of the $5000 if he decides to settle with the storage company. He has just decided not to appeal the decision, upon the advice of several lawyers.




 

 

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