Here’s Why you Never get Tickets to Anything

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Venues packed full of fans who’ve payed reasonable prices for tickets are ultimately good for everyone.

The 6 reasons you’re being screwed out of tickets before they even go on sale to the public.

There’s a centuries old saying that there are only two certainties in life – death and taxes. But if you’ve ever subjected yourself to the punish that is trying to purchase tickets for that big concert, game or event online, you’ll have been made painstakingly aware that there’s a third certainty in the new millennium – being screwed out of tickets by online re-sellers.

And while there’s yet to be a widely accepted solution – though ticketless technology is available, where the credit card used to purchase the ticket needs to be swiped to enter the venue – we finally have answers as to why and how we’re being screwed.

Two extensive studies by the British government and New York Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, into online ticket scalping have been released in the past few months. And former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard recently helped make sense of them in a guest column for Here’s what we learned:

1. Up to 90% of tickets are sold before the general on-sale.

It’s all about the pre-sales. If you don’t have an American Express card, aren’t a card-carrying member of the artist/team’s fan club, aren’t on the mailing list of the venue or promoter, don’t work for a radio station or media network, and are in no way affiliated with any of the sponsors or the artists/team themselves, you’re facing an uphill battle before a single ticket is made available to the public. The studies both concluded that as little as half, and as much as 90% of tickets are sold before the general on-sale. Because…

2. Ticket brokers have infiltrated the pre-sale.

As if the above wasn’t bad enough, ticket brokers have infiltrated all of those pre-sale mailing lists and with multiple credit cards, countless fake names and addresses, use outsourced staff to buy up as many tickets as are available with the sole purpose of re-selling them.

3. Bieber and Katy Perry are the worst!

Finally, some evidence. Nah, we can all begrudgingly admit Bieber’s last album was pretty damn catchy. However, the reports found that for Justin Bieber and Katy Perry concerts specifically, no more than 15 per cent of tickets actually remained by the time of the general on-sale.

4. Your favourite artists and athletes are often complicit in the rort.

The studies found that a significant portion of the best tickets are held back from the public by the promoters, to be sold directly on the secondary market. And Hubbard says many artists knowingly endorse promoters doing so. One, he says, because if every ticket was sold at face value it would only cover the cost of the artists’ guaranteed income for each show – if that – and they don’t want to earn less. And two, artists don’t want to get hammered on social media by their fans for outrageous ticket prices. So the face value is just that, to save face. And the margin the promoters lose on actually making the event happen, they make up by selling the best tickets direct on the secondary market.

Those were the days. $4.50 a pop and not a robot in sight.

5. Celebs and other beneficiaries of free tickets re-sell them.

Yep, every free ticket scored is cash in the hand. And given the free tickets offered to celebs, friends, partners and family are often the best seats, they’re worth a helluva lot. And the bigger the event, the greater the demand and income. It’s not that they’re bad people, Hubbard says, but many experience said events on the reg and couldn’t be fucked putting in the effort to actually get stuck in traffic, pay for parking and jump on a bus to the stadium, just to wait in line for 40 minutes to pay $13 for a beer.

6. What’s left is taken by the bots.

So, you’ve somehow overcome all of the above, plus the dreaded waiting room and are about to buy tickets in the general on-sale. But what’s left sells out in minutes! It’s because of the bots. The studies proved it and Hubbard confirmed that the ticket brokers have computer programs designed specifically to blaze through the whole checkout process quicker than any human being. What about the catchphrase security measure? The bots are designed to present them to the out-sourced and low-paid help, to solve. Then your tickets are as good as gone and up for sale for as much as 10 times the value elsewhere.

So what’s the solution?

Hubbard says it’s the artists and or teams who have the balance of power, given they stand to make the most from their own performances. And he suggests fans encourage them to do the right thing –  even if it means the face value of tickets will rise, because at least everyone will have a fair go if paperless ticketing was introduced. Though, he says, ticket brokers could overcome that by using Visa gift cards and sending them with the tickets.

Louis CK is the current leader in paperless ticketing, with his club shows requiring fans to buy tickets using their drivers licenses at the venue in advance of the performance and being limited to just two tickets. If the ID doesn’t match, you’re not getting in. And the tickets are resold by the venue at face value to those in the wait line.

Editor’s Note: A $400 million class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster for charging excessive processing fees means if you bought a ticket with them between October 21, 1999 and February 27, 2013 you could have free tickets and/or discount codes. To see if you’re one of the 50 million people, log onto your Ticketmaster account and go check out ‘Active Vouchers.’

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