October 13, 2008 | last updated May 26, 2012 5:56 am

Ticket Network Direct Objects To BBB's Negative Rating | Agency cites 120 complaints over three years

The Connecticut Better Business Bureau has given Vernon-based Ticket Network Direct an unsatisfactory rating, while the company claims that the consumer protection agency has been out of line.

On Sept. 30, the BBB issued a press release that warned consumers about the business practices of two online ticket brokers — Ticket Network Direct and Las Vegas-based Event Tickets LLC.

In the release, the agency said it had processed more than 120 complaints about Ticket Network Direct during the past three years, including 63 in the past 12 months.

In particular, the BBB cited Ticket Network Direct's advertising claims that it offers the "cheapest" prices that are "lower" than the competition, statements that the BBB concluded were inaccurate.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal confirmed that his office is investigating the claims against Ticket Network Direct.

Ticket Network Direct operates Web sites that ticket brokers use to sell tickets, and it buys tickets from venues that it later sells to ticket buyers.

Ticket Network Direct president and CEO Donald Vaccaro said he was "absolutely shocked" by the press release, which he said unfairly targeted his company.

"It's a failure to recognize how significant our business is," Vaccaro said. "We processed three million orders last year. It's going to end up being less than 100 complaints filed against us, which means our customer satisfaction is at 99.999 percent. It's a hugely insignificant number."

Vaccaro was also upset that the BBB made public its concerns with Ticket Network Direct while overlooking the practices of other online ticket companies. He cited records showing that StubHub received 469 complaints and TicketMaster had 656 complaints during the same three-year window that Ticket Network Direct had 120 complaints.

'Industry Norm'

"Our number of complaints is actually less than the industry norm," Vaccaro added. "There was a false accusation that customers did not receive their tickets, and that is just not true. It was irresponsible and showed a lack of oversight on the BBB's part."

The Sept. 30 press release has since been removed from the BBB's Web site, but agency officials maintained that the facts within the release were still accurate. They said the press release was removed to give Ticket Network Direct time to address the complaints.

Howard Schwartz, communications director for the BBB, said that none of the information in the original release had been rescinded.

But Vaccaro said that many of the complaints filed against his company were supposed to be filed against other online ticket brokers, meaning that Ticket Network Direct piled up complaints that were not theirs.

Schwartz said the company never informed the BBB that any of the complaints were directed at another company. "The reliability report remains active on our Web site, and consumers should read the fine print before making any purchases," he said.

Connecticut BBB president Paulette Hotton Scarpetti said, in a statement, that the BBB will "review and verify" Ticket Network Direct's claims about incorrect complaints and added that it would be a "lengthy process."

No Longer Accredited

"It is the responsibility of the BBB to inform customers of complaint patterns and work with companies so that they can attain and maintain standards of ethical business practice so that consumers can make wise buying decisions based on facts and not emotions." Scarpetti said.

According to the BBB, the decision to remove the press release from the Web site was intended to give Ticket Network Direct an opportunity to settle the unresolved complaints that are the basis for the company's unsatisfactory rating.

The reliability report on Ticket Network Direct remains online. The report still lists the more than 120 complaints, though it mentions that the company believes some do not belong there.

The BBB's Web site also reveals that Ticket Network Direct is no longer accredited, as of Oct. 2. "We sent a letter on July 31 that informed the BBB we were resigning from its online program," Vaccaro said. "It seems ironic that something like this would come out after we sent that letter."

Vaccaro also criticized the BBB for poor communication because he said that he spoke with BBB sales representatives who did not relay information to BBB compliance officers.

"There seems to be a [fire]wall between sales and complaints," he said.

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