By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The New York Attorney General is investigating why so-called "speculative" tickets to a series of upcoming Bruce Springsteen concerts were listed for sale on websites owned by eBay and two other companies, according to letters seen by Reuters.
The Dec. 7 letters, sent by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office to eBay-owned StubHub Inc., Connecticut-based TicketNetwork Inc. and Illinois-based Vivid Seats Ltd., order them to immediately remove any listings by ticket re-sellers for speculative Springsteen tickets.
It also asks company executives to meet with investigators in the Internet bureau to answer questions about how they identify and combat speculative ticket sales.
Speculative tickets are sold by re-sellers who do not have tickets in hand. They generally try to purchase an actual ticket when they go on sale to the public and pocket the difference between what they charged the buyer and what they paid.
Bruce Springsteen's 2016 concert tour was announced on Dec. 4. He is due to play at several venues in New York, including Madison Square Garden and the Blue Cross Arena.
Although tickets will not go on sale until Dec. 11, Schneiderman's office said it found tickets were already being listed for sale on the three companies' websites.
In the case of StubHub, some of the tickets were being listed for $5,000 or more.
"Speculative tickets harm both consumers and the ticket industry," wrote Assistant Attorney General for the Internet Bureau Jordan Adler.
"In many cases, consumers who purchase a speculative ticket do not receive the seats that were advertised and paid for."
Chris VanDeHoef, a spokesman for TicketNetwork, said the company had already taken steps to address the issue.
"We have voluntarily chosen to take down any inventory listed on our site for Bruce Springsteen concerts in New York until the public sale this Friday and urge any other sites that have them listed now to do the same," he said.
A spokesman for StubHub said it planned to respond to the letter, adding it stood behind every ticket sold on its website. He said the company promises customers will get their tickets on time.
"If any of these things do not occur, we will find comparable or better tickets to the event, or provide a refund," the spokesman said.
A spokesperson from Vivid Seats confirmed receiving the letter and said the company shared "the goal of ensuring a positive customer experience in ticket buying."
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Sandra Maler)