Ticketmaster Takes Another Stab At Shutting Down Scalpers With Paperless Tickets
from the two-sets-of-rules dept
When it’s not been busy trying to get into the scalping business itself, Ticketmaster has been trying to push scalpers aside. It claims it does this for altruistic reasons, but those claims generally fall on deaf ears, with many people believing it’s simply trying to capture the scalpers’ revenues. It’s escalating the battle now by expanding its use of paperless tickets for concerts, and will use them for the upcoming Miley Cyrus tour, after an earlier series of shows sparked a flurry of complaints about scalpers. Ticketmaster has been testing the program for a little while, and trying to sell it as a convenient solution: instead of getting a paper ticket for a show, buyers don’t receive one before the show, and instead must present the credit card they used to purchase their seats to get in. On its surface, this seems like a fairly effective way of cutting out scalpers by making their transactions with their customers much more difficult. But it’s still not clear why Ticketmaster sees such a need to interfere with the market — beyond its own self-interest, of course. It’s hard to imagine that Ticketmaster really cares that scalping goes on, except for the fact that it’s not making any money from it.
One inevitable (and legitimate) complaint about this system is that it not only takes out scalpers, but other secondary transactions, too. Want to buy tickets as a gift, or for your kid? You’ll have to take the recipient to the show and go up to the gate with them. Buy tickets for yourself, but then can’t go to the show and want to give them to a friend? You’re out of luck, unless you and your credit card can get there (and, of course, there are no refunds). It seems likely that Ticketmaster will have to do something to rectify this, particularly given the political scrutiny they’ve attracted lately, and the solution seems obvious: Ticketmaster sets up a secondary market that lets people resell their tickets and reassigns them to a new credit-card holder (taking a cut for all the hard work, of course). The company has been growing its reseller business, in particular making efforts to become the “official fan resale” partner of various sports leagues and teams, and it’s hard to see it not using paperless tickets as a way to expand this business. Ticketmaster hates scalping — unless it’s the one doing the reselling. But if it wants to benefit from the free market, the market should really be free, and not one established and controlled by Ticketmaster.