SEATTLE (Reuters) - Washington state's top lawyer filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against an online company that sold tickets to last month's Super Bowl to fans who traveled to Phoenix for the game only to find out they did not have seats.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson accuses New York-based SBTickets.com LLC of deceptive sales practices ahead of the Feb. 1 game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, saying the company sold tickets it did not have to consumers who paid up to $3,500 per seat.
"For many people, a trip to the Super Bowl is a once-in-a-lifetime event," Ferguson said in a statement. "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," he said.
The attorney general's office has received 24 complaints regarding 60 tickets sold to Washington state customers. Prices ranged from $1,875 to $3,500 per ticket, and totaled at least $149,000 for tickets promised to be "100 percent guaranteed," the attorney general's statement said.
In the lawsuit, Ferguson describes SBTickets as a short-seller who "sold tickets it did not have, hoping to fulfill its orders by buying tickets at a later date for a lower price."
But tickets for the game increased in value as the Super Bowl approached, with some entry fees reaching $10,000, the statement said.
"Rather than honoring its contracts and suffering a loss, SBTickets notified numerous Washington consumers they would not be receiving a ticket," Ferguson said, adding that the tickets SBTickets obtained went to those who had paid the most for their seats.
Though many customers have received a refund, others are still waiting for their money to be returned, the attorney general's office said.
The lawsuit also seeks damages for individuals who spent money on flights and hotels in Phoenix but did not get to go to the game.
It also asks for penalties of up to $2,000 per violation and an injunction preventing the company from engaging in deceptive practices in the future.
SBTickets referred questions about the lawsuit to the company's attorney, Mark Heller, who was not immediately available for comment.
The Seattle Seahawks fell 28-24 to the New England Patriots in the National Football League's championship game.
Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh