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.

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Companies: ticketmaster

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Comments on “Ticketmaster Takes Another Stab At Shutting Down Scalpers With Paperless Tickets”

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36 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Devil's Advocate

I think a case can be made for Ticket Master here. If scalpers buy 100 Miley Cyrus tickets and sell them for twice the price, that’s 100 legitimate customers that now have to pay more money. It is correct to point out that Ticket Master gains nothing by selling directly to the customer, rather than through a scalper – so if the price of the ticket stays the same, then the customer should benefit, not Ticket Master.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Customer Satisfaction

You know, most customers blame Ticketmaster for being out of tickets for popular events because of blocks of tickets sold to the secondary market.

One could see this move as responding to customer complaints.

What groups belong to TicketMasters’ secondary market group? Which online sellers? I will avoid them if possible. (Actually, I avoid TicketMaster if I can.)

zaven (profile) says:

What pisses me off more than anything is the f-in convenience charges. They will force you to buy these paperless tickets. Then charge you $5 to give it to send it to your cell phone or something.

Why the F is it more expensive for me to print out the ticket on my home computer, or have it sent straight to my cell phone than it is for you to mail it to me. Heck, mailing it to me is the only thing that actually costs money of those options.

Hani Durzy (user link) says:

TM secondary market = no solution at all. Here's an alternative.

As others have already pointed out, having TicketMaster set up a secondary online marketplace really is no solution at all. Consumers benefit by having choice, which is why so many states have repealed their secondary ticket sales laws in recent years. Allowing these tickets to be resold only on a TM-owned online marketplace offers no choice at all.

One potential solution could be for states to pass legislation making it illegal for events in that state to offer ticketless-only entry UNLESS TicketMaster makes its system interoperable with other established, safe secondary markets, such as StubHub.

If TicketMaster can’t/won’t do this, then at least a law requiring that all events give the ticket buyer the CHOICE to get a ticketless or paper ticket would seem to be in order.

Online Sports Betting (profile) says:

to effectively cut out scalpers...

This is a dumb move on the part of Ticketmaster and it will not work. Credit cards checks on entering events will present big drops in sales as mentioned above – tickets given as presents to other people, company events, etc.. I bet that scalpers will find a way around this and this measure might even increase profits for scalpers as people will buy less tickets directly from Ticketmaster.

If Ticketmaster limits number of tickets that can be bought by one credit card – they will hurt their sales plus scalpers will use multiple credit cards to circumvent this. If only credit card is checked at the entrance, credit cards from different people can be used by scalpers. Also scalpers can come to the event entrance, tell check people this is a big group of friends or whatever, flash the credit card and go for the next batch of people.

There is no cost-effective way I can see that kill the scalping without violating privacy or hurting sales.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: to effectively cut out scalpers...

The reason scalpers exist is because the prices are too low. If 200 people want 100 tickets, the price is too low. The price is right when 100 people want 100 tickets. There will be ABSOLUTELY NO DROP OFF IN SALES if the ticket prices are set right. Auction off every ticket and scalpers will disappear overnight.

Anonymous Coward says:

Rare time I will say that Ticketmaster is on to something here. Scalpers are the ruin of many a concert event, snapping up tickets that true fans would otherwise get, and then selling them back to those real fans at a heavily inflated price.

Scalpers are vultures, everything to bypass them and make them not be part of the scene is good for fans and artists alike.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Your arugment against scalpers might make sense if the scalpers put guns to people’s head and forced them to buy at the higher price.

The easiest way to remove scalpers is for people to not buy from them. If you cut off their revenue stream, they will leave.

The thing is people may moan and complain, but they still pay that higher price because it is worth it to them. So really any argument you can make against scalpers is moot until you convince people to stop buying them that way.

Anonymous Coward says:

With Ticketmaster ‘service fees’ costing more than the actual show is getting I do not buy. So that means I pretty do not see any show/act/etc. that is hosted Ticketmaster or any of it’s ticket re-selling sub companies.

Scalpers tend to be bad but when I wanted to see a particular event all but 200 tickets where left to the public – the rest went to the corporate ticket holders. I but my ticket for less than face value from one companies accountant that had a block of 500+ for his company of 100 people that he had to get ride of.

Sadly Ticketmaster claims to hate scalpers but sets up dummy company that they can filter premium tickets to and claim that is not scalping.

Nookshook says:

THIS IS BY FAR THE STUPIDEST IDEA.

Sorry Ticketmaster, you’re gonna lose many fans and quit a bit of money. If you ask me, I’d rather go to a concert with my friend, rather than my mother. I’m only 15 and I do not own a credit card. I pick no going to concerts at all if I have no choice other than going with my mom. Stttttuuupppiiiddd iddeeeaaaa.

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