An enterprising law firm saw a payday in Ticketmaster’s long-time policy of tacking on extra fees to tickets, so they came up with a convoluted class-action settlement that gives everyone who bought a ticket in the last 12 years a $1.50 credit on a new ticket. Along with probably millions of others, I got an email notification of this settlement yesterday. Reader Daniel was, rightly, incensed by this puny action, and he sent links to a Facebook group that opposes the settlement, as well as a objection filed by an attorney that contains this:
13) Under the proposed Settlement, Lead Class Counsel will be eligible to request and receive fees of up to fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000) in consideration for eight years of purported service toward negotiating a Settlement under which each Class member would receive an “award” which not only has no cash value, but is otherwise virtually useless to anyone but Defendant.
This is the key point in these do-nothing class actions. Some enterprising group of attorneys sees a nickel-and-dime corporate screw job. They construct a class action lawsuit to address it. Then they entice the corporation to accept a settlement by constructing a toothless remedy that can be represented as potential big payday. Once their settlement is accepted by the court, they collect millions of dollars.
In this case, the only way to collect on my Ticketmaster settlement is to buy another ticket. I’ll get $1.50 off of that ticket if I go through whatever baroque procedure will be required to collect my settlement. Ticketmaster still gets to sell me another ticket and collect its still hefty and profitable fee. Considering the few people who will actually bother to go through the nuisance required to get the $1.50, the only winners here are Ticketmaster, who immunized themselves, and the law firm of Alvarado Smith who dreamed up this whole scam.
A real remedy would have Ticketmaster cutting checks and sending them to everyone who bought a ticket. They do have all of our addresses, after all. But that would require actual litigation and risk on the part of Alvarado Smith, which might cut into their $15 million payday, and it might actually affect Ticketmaster’s bottom line. And Bieber knows we can’t accept potential damages to a free market engine of wealth creation like Tickemaster.