This Agreement is entered into on this 22nd day of December, 2005, by and between the United States of America and Ticketmaster L.L.C. (“TM”) in order to resolve complaints received by the Department of Justice that TM has violated title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.
1. TM is formed under the laws of the state of Delaware and has its principal place of business in West Hollywood, CA. TM operates a service business in which it contracts with Facilities, sporting teams, and promoters to sell tickets to the general public for attractions scheduled to be held at the Facilities.
2. The United States Department of Justice is charged with enforcement of title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b).
3. Attraction. An event to be held at the Facility for which TM has authority to sell tickets to the public.
4. Facility. The arena, theater or similar venue at which an Attraction is scheduled to be held.
5. Facility Box Office. The ticket office(s) at a Facility.
6. General Seats or Seating. Seats in the Facility which are not designated accessible or otherwise held for designated groups.
7. Accessible Seats or Seating. Seats at the Facility which have been designated by the Facility as being accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This includes seats that TM has been authorized to sell and seats held back for sale by the Facility.
8. Companion Seats or Seating. Seats at the Facility which have been designated by the Facility as seats for the companion(s) who accompany the person(s) with a disability.
9. SELCLS System. The data base used by TM for specially designated seats, including Accessible Seating and Companion Seating.
10. On-line Sales or Internet Sales. Tickets for an Attraction that are purchased at the TM web site, www.ticketmaster.com,
11. Telephone Sales. Tickets for an Attraction that are purchased over the telephone, via a Sales Agent, or by using an Interactive Voice Response (“IVR”) system.
12. Outlet Sales. Tickets for an Attraction that are purchased through TM at an outlet located at a variety of locations such as department stores, malls, and the like. Agents at outlets are not employees of TM, but are trained by TM in operating the TM System.
13. Sales Agent. The individual who handles Consumer ticket orders over the telephone, at an outlet or box office, or who responds to e-mail requests for Accessible Seating.
14. Consumer. An individual who seeks to purchase one or more tickets from TM.
15. Pre-Sale. Ticket sales that occur before the date tickets are made available to the general public.
16. Wheelchair Locations. Area(s) in a Facility where there is space in which wheelchairs and Companion Seats are to be located.
17. Modified Aisle Seats. Aisle seats that have been modified by the removal of an armrest or where the armrest can be folded away.
18. TM operates a proprietary computerized ticketing system (the “TM System”) that is used to make tickets for various entertainment and sports events available for sale via a network of telephone operators, an IVR telephone system, the Internet, Facility Box Offices, and independent third-party retail outlets. TM makes these tickets available for sale, in the capacity of an agent for its various clients, who are sporting teams, entertainment venues, and promoters (collectively, “Event Presenters”). The Event Presenters determine, in their sole discretion, the price, location and number of tickets that may be made available through the TM System. As part of that discretion, the Event Presenters determine whether Accessible Seating tickets will be available through the TM System, and if so, how many tickets will be available through TM.
19. From 1998 through 2002, the United States has received complaints from individuals with disabilities who have been unable to purchase tickets for Accessible Seats for Attractions or who have been unable to purchase such tickets in a manner that is equal to that afforded non-disabled Consumers. These complaints challenge several different practices, and include:
- Requiring individuals who seek to purchase tickets for Accessible Seats and Companion Seats over the Internet, to do so through a series of e-mail communications with a Sales Agent, while individuals seeking to purchase tickets for non-accessible seats can consummate their purchase directly on the web-site, in a matter of minutes;
- Failure of a Sales Agent receiving email communications to respond in a timely fashion;
- Inability to use the IVR telephone system to purchase tickets for Accessible Seats;
- Requiring individuals to wait long periods of time when purchasing tickets for Accessible Seating over the telephone while they waited for a customer service agent who was trained to sell tickets for Accessible Seats;
- Inability to purchase tickets for Accessible Seats in a “pre-sale;”
- Perception that TM does not retain sufficient Accessible Seating tickets.
20. The United States conducted an investigation of the complaints received and of TM’s practices in selling tickets for Accessible Seating and General Seating. The investigation revealed the following facts:
21. The practices of Facilities vary in terms of the inventory of Accessible Seating tickets that are made available to TM to sell. Some Facilities give TM all of their tickets designated for Accessible Seating; some give TM a portion of those tickets, and some do not give TM tickets for any Accessible Seats. TM represents that it attempts to obtain tickets for all of a Facility’s Accessible Seats for sale.
22. In the past, TM trained only its Customer Service Agents to use the SELCLS System to sell tickets for Accessible Seats. In October, 1999, TM modified this practice and since that date to the present, it trains all Sales Agents (incumbents and newly hired agents) in the use of SELCLS, thus eliminating the possibility that individuals will experience delays in purchasing tickets over the telephone while they wait for a trained agent. TM intends to continue providing training on SELCLS to all incoming Sales Agents and employees of outlets and box offices, and continue its practice of having all agents, including employees of outlets and box offices, handle sales of General Seating Tickets as well as sales of tickets for Accessible Seating and Companion Seating through SELCLS.
23. Individuals who purchase Accessible Seating tickets over the Internet are not able to do so in the same manner as individuals purchasing tickets for General Seating. The latter group can get confirmation of seat availability and purchase their tickets immediately, while individuals seeking to purchase Accessible Seating tickets must communicate their request via e-mail, and wait a period of time to learn whether there are available seats in order to consummate the purchase.
24. TM’s current practice for responding to e-mail communications seeking Accessible Seating tickets is to (a) handle the requests on a first come/first served basis so that Consumers are in a queue only with other Consumers seeking tickets for Accessible Seats; (b) send an automatic acknowledgment of the e-mail request; (c) process the e-mail request within one (1) hour and inform the Consumer about the availability of tickets for Accessible Seats and that the seats have been set aside for the Consumer pending his/her reply. Although it is TM’s goal to process an email request seeking Accessible Seating tickets within one hour, and TM represents that it often responds within minutes of receiving an e-mail request, there are times, particularly due to excess demand for a popular event, when TM does not meet this goal, so that some individuals experience delays in getting a response to the e-mail communication. Such a delay does not impact a Consumer’s ability to purchase Accessible Seating tickets, and such tickets will continue to be sold on a first come/first served basis until TM’s allotment of Accessible Seating tickets has been exhausted.
25. The IVR system permits Consumers to purchase General Seating tickets using directions on an automated telephone system. The IVR system is typically in operation approximately 20-22 hours per day. Consumers cannot purchase Accessible Seating tickets through the IVR system. The IVR system allows Consumers seeking Accessible Seating tickets to transfer to a Sales Agent.
26. TM sells Companion Seating tickets in accordance with instructions from the Facility. TM represents that virtually all venues provide at least one Companion Seat for each Accessible Seat.
27. TM does not have uniform policies for transferring unsold Accessible Seating tickets from SELCLS to the inventory for general sales. Decisions for selling tickets for Accessible Seats to Consumers without disabilities is made on a case by case basis by the Facility or Event Presenter. TM represents that in the vast majority of events, Accessible Seating is not transferred to General Seating until close to the event, if at all.
28. TM represents that the vast majority of Pre-Sales include Pre-Sales of tickets for Accessible Seats, and that its current practice is to request Accessible Seating tickets for a Pre-Sale.
29. The ADA provides that “no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a).
30. Under the ADA, it is “discriminatory to afford an individual or class of individuals, on the basis of a disability or disabilities of such individual or class, directly, or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements with the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation that is not equal to that afforded to other individuals.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(1)(A)(ii).
31. Under the ADA, it is discriminatory to fail “to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless the entity can demonstrate that making such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of such goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii).
32. The United States asserts that TM is a place of public accommodation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(E) and (F).
33. The United States asserts that TM has violated title III of the ADA by failing to sell tickets to individuals with a disability in a manner that is equal to that afforded to individuals without disabilities.
34. TM denies that it is a place of public accommodation, and further denies that it has discriminated against individuals who have filed complaints with the Department of Justice or other individuals seeking to purchase Accessible Seating tickets.
Actions by Ticketmaster:
35. In order to resolve the complaints received by the Department of Justice, without resorting to litigation, TM agrees to the following with respect to its operations within the United States:
36. TM will continue to explore ways that will enable individuals with disabilities to purchase tickets for Accessible Seats on-line in the same manner individuals purchase tickets for General Seating on-line. In the meantime, TM will utilize the procedures for purchasing tickets for Accessible Seats on-line, as described in paragraphs 24 and 37, and in no event will TM modify these procedures in a way that would diminish a Consumer’s ability to purchase tickets for Accessible Seats on-line.
37. TM agrees that it will modify its current system for on-line purchases of Accessible Seating tickets as follows:
- If TM is not selling Accessible Seating tickets for an Attraction, TM will display a notice on the TM website that it has no Accessible Seating tickets for the Attraction, and that Accessible Seating tickets may be available at the Facility by contacting the Facility Box Office directly. If TM exhausts its allotment of Accessible Seating tickets for an Attraction, TM will then, when informing Consumers by manually-generated emails that it has no such tickets available, also indicate in the email that Accessible Seating tickets might be available at the Facility by contacting the Facility Box Office directly.
- Modify TM practices so that Sales Agents are available to respond to e-mail requests for tickets during the 20-22 hours per day that the system is operational, and continue to adhere to the current practice of processing e-mail requests within 1 hour.
38. TM will modify its practices so that Sales Agents are available to handle telephone requests for Accessible Seating tickets during the 20-22 hours per day that the IVR system is operational.
39. TM will modify its practices for telephone purchases or purchases at outlets so that, when tickets for Accessible Seats are not available, the Sales Agent informs the Consumer that tickets for Accessible Seats may be available at the Facility by contacting the Facility Box Office directly.
40. TM will use reasonable efforts to obtain inventories of Accessible Seating tickets for Pre-Sales. Any Pre-Sale purchaser of Accessible Seating tickets will need to meet the particular criteria for the Pre-Sale in question, e.g., membership in a fan club, season ticket holder, or any other requirement established for the Pre-Sale.
41. TM will use reasonable efforts to ensure that future contracts with Facilities will provide: (a) that unsold Accessible Seating tickets may be transferred from SELCLS for sale to the general public no earlier than two weeks before the Attraction and only if all non-accessible seats in the same price range, which have been allotted to TM, have been sold; (b) in situations, where an additional concert or event is added less than two weeks before the scheduled event, TM will not transfer Accessible Seating tickets for that event to General Seating unless or until all non-accessible seats in the same price range, which have been allotted to TM, have been sold; and (c) before any Accessible Seating tickets can be transferred to General Seating, TM must have completed processing any outstanding e-mail requests for tickets for Accessible Seating. For existing contracts, TM will use reasonable efforts to discourage a transfer of Accessible Seating to General Seating except under the circumstances described above.
42. With regard to Companion Seats: (a) TM will train its Sales Agents, when a Consumer needs tickets for more companions than the number of Companions Seats allocated to the Accessible Seat in question, to look for additional seats in the general pool, as close as possible to the Accessible Seat, to be used by the additional companions, and (b) modify its purchasing system so that telephone Sales Agents can hold an Accessible Seating ticket and adjoining Companion Seating ticket while the agent searches for tickets for seats in the general pool for the additional companions, without first requiring the Consumer to pay for the Accessible Seating and Companion Seating tickets. Consumers may purchase as many Accessible, Companion and General Seating tickets as they may require through on-line services or telephone services up to the applicable limits on the total number of tickets that can be sold for each transaction. Nothing in this provision is intended to require that TM waive any applicable limits on the total number of tickets that can be sold for each transaction, nor is this provision intended to override or nullify the number of Companion Seats allocated by the Facility or Event Presenter to each Accessible Seat.
43. Within thirty days of the effective date of this Agreement, TM shall designate a Disability Coordinator to handle all questions, concerns, or complaints regarding accessibility. The Disability Coordinator shall attend at least one conference or training per year addressing disability and accessibility issues. The Disability Coordinator will maintain a log of the complaints received in his/her office, contact information for the individual making the complaint, and the resolution of each complaint.
Reporting and Monitoring
44. Six months after this Agreement is executed, and continuing every six months for the three years this agreement is in effect, TM will make available to the Department of Justice the log maintained by the Disability Coordinator. TM will maintain copies of written or e-mail complaints that are received by the Disability Coordinator, which will be made available at the Department’s request. Any documents provided to the Department of Justice during the monitoring period will be returned to Ticketmaster at the end of the monitoring period. The Department will inform TM of complaints it receives for further discussion of whether the issue can be resolved.
45. The United States is authorized, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B), to bring a civil action under Title III, enforcing the ADA in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist or a matter of general public importance is raised. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the United States agrees to refrain from filing a civil lawsuit or pursuing any other civil or criminal remedies in this matter, based upon any complaint received by it on or before the effective date of this Agreement relating to the sale of tickets for Accessible Seats.
46. In the event that the United States receives future complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of disability in connection with purchasing Accessible Seating tickets through TM, the United States will notify TM of such complaints. The United States agrees that it will not file a complaint initiating civil litigation without first making a reasonable effort to notify TM about the nature of the dispute, attempting to achieve a settlement, and giving TM a reasonable period in which to cure any alleged non-compliance with the ADA.
47. In the event that TM materially fails to comply in a timely fashion with this Agreement, without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the United States as to a temporary modification of the relevant terms of the Agreement, all then applicable terms of this Agreement shall become immediately enforceable in a United States District Court. If the United States prevails in a civil proceeding to enforce this Agreement, and proves that TM has failed to comply with any provision of this Agreement, TM shall correct this noncompliance
48. In the alternative, if TM materially fails to comply in a timely fashion with this Agreement, without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the United States as to a temporary modification of the relevant terms of the Agreement, the United States may pursue a civil action in the District Court of California, and seek all relief available under the ADA. In such event, the United States may not seek any relief pertaining to alleged violations of the ADA that allegedly occurred before the date of the Agreement, where such alleged violations relate to the Agreement’s provisions with which TM has complied.
49. This Agreement does not preclude the United States or any other entity from taking action against Facilities to enforce any relevant ADA statutory provisions or regulatory provisions not resolved by this Agreement.
50. Failure by the United States or TM to enforce this entire Agreement, or any provision thereof, with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of their right to do so with regard to other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
51. A copy of this document, or any information contained herein, may be made available to any person by the United States.
52. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below. This Agreement shall remain in effect for a period of three years following its effective date.
53. This Agreement shall be binding on the United States and on TM and its agents and employees. In the event TM seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in any Facility covered by this Agreement, and the successor assign intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the Facility, as a condition of sale, TM shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.
54. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised in paragraph 19 herein and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, shall be enforceable.
55. This Agreement is limited to the issues set forth herein. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not purport to list all violations, if there are any, of the ADA by TM. However, the Department of Justice is unaware of any alleged violations of the ADA by Ticketmaster that are not addressed in the Agreement.
56. To the extent, if any, that Ticketmaster is subject to the ADA, this Agreement does not affect TM’s continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title III of the ADA.
57. Signatories of this Agreement on behalf of the parties represent that they are authorized to bind the parties to this Agreement.
58. Each party to this Agreement will bear their own fees and costs incurred to date.
For the United States:
WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
PHILIP L. BREEN, Special Legal Counsel
ALLISON J. NICHOL, Deputy Chief
LAURA F. EINSTEIN, Trial Attorney
FELICIA L. SADLER, Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice - NYA
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530
Telephone: (202) 514-9583
For Ticketmaster L.L.C.
KERRY R. SAMOVAR
Vice President, Assistant General Counsel
8800 W. Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Telephone: (310) 360-3300
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January 3, 2006