Ticketmaster sales unfair, say shut out music fans
Darcy Wintonyk and Lynda Steele, CTV British Columbia
Published Friday, October 12, 2012 4:19PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 17, 2012 7:34PM PDT
Paul McCartney fans shut out of getting tickets for his upcoming show in Vancouver say Ticketmaster and resellers make it impossible for regular fans to score seats to popular concerts.
Victoria resident Dale Dymianiw was unable to get tickets for he and his wife to see the megastar at BC Place on Nov. 25, despite being on two computers, ready to buy tickets the instant they went on sale.
"I’m going back and forth and going 'there's no tickets, there's no tickets.' This is right at 10 o'clock on the day that they started selling them," he told CTV’s Steele on Your Side.
It wasn’t any better for fans that showed up at the box office. The first person in line at the Edmonton box office that day was shocked to learn there were no seats available. The arena staffer was similarly surprised, saying she’d never seen a situation like it.
Unable to get tickets through the Ticketmaster website, Dymianiw said he was disappointed to find thousands of tickets for the Paul McCartney concert on resale websites – for much higher prices.
“It’s like they have a special pipeline to more tickets,” he said.
A scan of these sites by CTV News producers found more than 1,900 tickets for the Vancouver show for as much as $3,200 for a floor seat, plus service charges of up to $800. That’s in addition to the $40 fee to mail the tickets to the person’s address.
Kingsley Bailey, who re-sells event tickets through his company, Vancouver Ticket Services, says even he's having trouble getting his hands on tickets these days.
He suggests Ticketmaster is holding back seats and funneling prime tickets to its own re-selling site, TicketsNow.
"What they're doing is questionable… but they can do what they do because right now the rules say what they're doing is completely right," Bailey said.
Although the ticket giant operates the secondary reselling site, Ticketmaster steadfastly maintains its tickets never end up on the site unless supplied by an individual ticket holder, or reseller.
"We never divert any inventory from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow. We don't own the inventory -- we don't control the inventory,” spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson told CTV’s Lynda Steele in a telephone interview from Los Angeles.
Ticketmaster claims high-tech scalpers scoop up the best seats using sophisticated computer programs called bots.
"They have people, I’m going to put it in layman's terms…basically cutting in line with these bots to scoop up tickets to then resell them on secondary sites,” Peterson said.
But along with millions of other concert fans, Dale Dymianiw is disappointed, and still isn’t sure who’s to blame. He bit the bullet and paid a premium to get tickets on a secondary site.
"It’s a conspiracy theory," he said. "The little guy has no choice."
Despite Ticketmaster’s assurances, a recent TV investigation in Tennessee found that just seven per cent of the arena's 14,000 seats for a Justin bieber show – or seven per cent -- were actually released to the public. The rest were sold in pre-sales, fan clubs, to VIPs and ticket resellers.
Several provinces have laws against reselling tickets for above face value, but Alberta just rescinded its legislation because it's too hard to enforce.
In May, Ticketmaster Canada settled a class-action lawsuit in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta, alleging the company bought and sold its own tickets for profit. The suit alleged that Ticketmaster coerced music fans to purchase much more expensive seats from its subsidiary TicketsNow.
The settlement included an automatic refund of $36 to people who bought qualifying tickets from TicketsNow. The company did not admit to any wrongdoing, but agreed to stop selling tickets for above face value in Ontario and Manitoba, in compliance with anti-scalping legislation.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for consumers to safely purchase tickets for anything from concerts to sporting events:
- Use social media to gain an edge. Many authorized fan websites for music groups and sports teams will have mailing lists or updates about pre-sales.
- Find out if the primary ticket seller uses dynamic pricing options. In cases of sporting events, some tickets may be cheaper if the visiting team is in less demand. Ticket prices for concerts can change right until the day of the event.
- Comparison shop. Check out online comparison websites like Tickpick.com to get an estimate of ticket price values to ensure that if you are buying above face-value, that you are not being price gouged.
- Ticket protection for online buys. Look at whether the website has any protections in place in case your tickets ends up a fake, or for non-delivery of the ticket.
- Procrastination may be the best money-saving option. If you wait until the event day you may be in luck for a discount on rush tickets from the box office. Some companies offer exclusive half-price tickets on the event day.
Have your say: What's your experience been buying concert tickets lately?