UPDATE: The amended complaint can be found here.
SEATTLE — For some Seahawks fans, the Super Bowl heartbreak started before the interception.
Just hours before the Super Bowl, customers of SBTickets.com, LLC received an email announcing the company would not fulfill all its ticket orders. The company did not have the tickets it promised when it made sales to many consumers.
Because of its unfair and deceptive practices, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson today filed a consumer protection lawsuit against SBTickets.
“For many people, a trip to the Super Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Ferguson said. “Because of SBTickets’ deception about its ‘guaranteed’ tickets, people spent their savings on a trip only to wind up watching the game at restaurants and hotels nearby. I’m committed to protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices, and when companies like SBTickets mislead Washington residents, I will hold them accountable.”
The Attorney General’s Office has received 24 complaints about SBTickets, regarding 60 tickets. Prices ranged from $1,875 to $3,500 per ticket. Washington consumers paid SBTickets at least $149,000 for tickets promised to be “100% Guaranteed, no tricks or gimmicks,” according to their website and email communications.
What SBTickets didn’t tell its customers is that it’s actually a short seller of Super Bowl tickets — it sold tickets it did not have, hoping to fulfill its orders by buying tickets at a later date for a lower price.
As it turned out, ticket prices increased as the big game neared. Tickets soared to more than $10,000, far more than SBTickets had collected from its customers.
Rather than honoring its contracts and suffering a loss, SBTickets notified numerous Washington consumers they would not be receiving a ticket. In distributing the few tickets it did obtain, SBTickets prioritized customers who had paid the highest price.
For those who did not get their tickets, SBTickets promised refunds by Feb. 2. That also did not happen. Most consumers eventually received refunds about two weeks after the Super Bowl.
For many, the ticket price represented only a portion of the cost of their trip. Consumers spent thousands more on travel and lodging because of SBTickets’ deceptive sales.
The state is asking the court to order SBTickets to reimburse their customers, including travel and lodging costs, penalties of up to $2,000 per violation and an injunction preventing the company from engaging in deceptive practices in the future.
If other Washington consumers experienced the same situation with SBTickets or another broker, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office. The office will review all complaints to determine whether individual brokers’ actions violated Washington state’s Consumer Protection Act.
To file a consumer complaint, visit www.atg.wa.gov and click the “Consumer Complaint” button, or call 1-800-551-4636 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the State of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Communications Director Peter Lavallee, (360) 586-0725, PeterL@atg.wa.gov