HARTFORD (CN) – An online ticket exchange company says the CEO of a Hartford theater company defamed it by calling it a ticket scalper in a legislative hearing on a bill that would set new rules for ticket sales.
TicketNetwork claims that David Fay, CEO of the Horace Bushnell Memorial Hall Corp., made false and disparaging remarks about it in a hearing before the Connecticut Legislature’s General Law Committee. Fay’s companies run the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, in Hartford.
Fay testified that TicketNetwork’s CEO Donald Vaccaro uses his computer system to put a hold on tickets, then buys up 30 percent of the inventory, weeds through it and then charges more money for the ticket than its face value, according to the complaint in Superior Court.
According to the complaint: “Mr. Fay testified about Mr. Vaccaro that ‘his computer goes to our computer, puts the ticket on hold, and then sells it to unsuspecting public’;
“Mr. Fay testified about Mr. Vaccaro that ‘one of his software companies designs systems that can attack the primary box office, so on the first day of sale, the moment the tickets go on sale, the moment that switch is flipped, thousands of virtual buyers go online. They’re all his buyers, often grabbing as much as 30 percent of the available inventory. Then they weed through them over the next hour or so and take the very best tickets they can – and this is on a hot show I’m talking about – so they wind up then turning around and making those available at their own pace, watching the market, seeing where the price is, charging often five, six, eight, ten times, and that’s on a hit show.’;
“Mr. Fay testified that … ‘many of these ticket scalpers’ use software to put thousands of tickets on ‘hold,’ temporarily unavailable for purchase by the public, while the companies determine which of the ‘very best tickets’ to purchase;
“Mr. Fay contrasted Mr. Vaccaro and other companies with ‘honest brokers’ – thereby asserting that Mr. Vaccaro was dishonest.”
TicketNetwork says Fay’s remarks were “false, because TicketNetwork functions as an electronic marketplace for the selling of tickets by those who have tickets, and TicketNetwork does not itself buy tickets, or put tickets on hold, or raise the re-sale price on tickets.”
TicketNetwork claims that Fay made “further false statements” about it in an interview with the Journal Inquirer newspaper.
It seeks a retraction, punitive damages for defamation, and costs.
TicketNetwork is represented by Brian O’Donnell and John Larson with Reid and Riege.