Dear Ticketmaster, Stop Scalping Your Own Tickets

Reader Santiago CC’d us on a letter to Ticketmaster’s parent company, IAC. As we’ve mentioned before, Radiohead fans are upset with Ticketmaster for linking to and promoting a “partner” ticket reseller that is charging exorbitant amounts of money for hard-to-get Radiohead tickets.

Santiago writes:

To whom it may concern at IAC,

Recently I found out you are the owners of Ticketmaster, I don’t know if you are aware but in April 19 tickets for the Radiohead concert in Toronto went up for sale by Ticketmaster at 10:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. it was already impossible to find tickets, they had sold out. Instead Ticketmaster was offering the chance of going to their partner website Ticketsnow.com, and buying the tickets from there, which of course meant that a ticket with a regular price of $70.00 could now be found with a value of up to $500. I intended to purchase two tickets and I am not willing to pay $1000 for them. It is not clear to me how tickets might sellout in the first minute of their launch. Should Ticketmaster and your company be abiding by a business code of ethics this wouldn’t happen, I refuse to buy tickets from scalpers and even more so when those scalpers are linked directly (and protected) to the company that was supposed to provide us with the tickets initially.

I expect this letter to cause no effect whatsoever in your companies policies, but would just like to let you know the frustration that my girlfriend, me and many fans of Radiohead feel towards your company and Ticketmaster.

Sincerely,

Santiago

Comments

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  1. henwy says:

    Scalping laws vary from state to state. Quite a few have no such laws at all, which would mean that any price increase wouldn’t be scalping. Others set a limit above face value for which you can sell the tickets. Ebay used to have a comprehensive list of the laws in the various states to inform sellers how much they could charge without getting their listings yanked.

  2. juiceboxonfire says:

    “… but would just like to let you know the frustration that my girlfriend, me and many fans of Radiohead feel…”

    “I” not “me.”

    Here ends the grammar police.

  3. mgy says:

    What prevents this company from purchasing gigantic blocks of tickets from ticketmaster before they go on sale, selling them at 5-10 times market value, and then splitting the profits? It’s win/win for them. Ticketmaster makes more money and they avoid looking like the bad guy (mostly).

    Ick.

  4. freakinalex says:

    Someone should really send the karma police after Ticketmaster.

  5. Skiffer says:

    @mgy: I don’t know for certain, but I think ticketsNow is limited to private re-sellers (i.e., it’s an e-bay, not a priceline).

    Still, when i saw this a couple months ago, it made me pretty upset, too…

    Just like the RIAA made me stop buying CDs, ticketmaster has made me stop going to concerts…

  6. B says:

    @mgy: Supply and demand, mostly. What prevents that from happening is people wouldn’t pay that much for the tickets. And if they would pay that much, well, than the market value of the tickets is much higher than the original price.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    @B:
    Spoken like a true scalper.

    They are artificially deflating the supply by buying up the tickets in bulk.

    Tell me, B. Did you vote for DeBeers in the last round?

  8. uhh, it is quite possible for tickets to be sold out in a minute or two, when you have several thousand fans around the area of Toronto and including Toronto, all of whom know what time it goes on sale.

    Need to be quick and get your stuff together. While I disagree with Ticketmaster’s policies(I never buy from them) I doubt they would have a steady hand in this, the backlash if found out could be extreme.

  9. pcwwalker says:

    I predict TicketBastard will make it to the Final Four, and has a strong chance of winning “The Worst Company in Amaerica” contest. My home was destroyed in Katrina, and they would not refund tickets to a concert that had been canceled w/o my physically returning the tickets. Fortunately, I had paid w/ AMEX and they took care of it. They will never see another nickel of mine.

  10. SoupMan says:

    I for one have no problem with tickets, especially desirable ones, being auctioned. They are a scarce resource and should be treated as such. By charging a flat price they create a shortage which solves nothing while creating a different problem. The only argument that could be made is that it would price some people out of the market but this is no different from any other premium item. If a ticket has a market value of $200 and can be sold at auction for that amount why should it be forced to be sold for $50. Technically this would be of greater benefit to the artist/performer/promoter as well ticketmaster as they will share the money that would otherwise go to scalpers/ticket brokers. It boggles my mind that people get so angry at scalpers. It makes sense emotionally but not logically. If I gave you an ounce of gold for $100 should you be prohibited from selling it at market value because others want to pay $100 also?

  11. B says:

    @Murph1908: Yea, I did. But that was because of the blood diamond issue. Unless the concert is in the middle of a war zone, I don’t see the correlation.

  12. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I used to say that I’d offset the loss to arists from downloading music with spending money to see them live. $70 seemed fair for a stadium performance by a big name band. But anything more than that, when the increase in cost isn’t going at all to the artists, just turns my stomach.

    Trent Reznor should come up with a way of getting around this, just as how he made so much money distributing his music directly himself. Perhaps he could play at small venues and sell the tickets through his webisite.

  13. Skiffer says:

    @B: TicketsNow & DeBeers -> Both artificially deflate supply to control prices.

    DeBeers was just as horrible before the blood diamond issues came to light in pop culture.

  14. B says:

    @Skiffer:
    There’s a major difference between DeBeers and a scalper. If a Scalper holds onto a ticket for too long, the value of it drops to zero. There’s very little risk of that happening with a diamond.

  15. sardonumspa says:

    Fsck Ticketmaster. I know it’s not always convenient, but I buy my tix at the venue box office.

    I refuse to support this monopoly.

  16. SoupMan says:

    And it is not possible to deflate supply for a concert. A 10,000 seat arena has a supply of 10,000 tickets. deBeers controls supply of a different product, one where they can hoard the commodity and artificially increase the total value , though this is also done by creating an artificial demand and decimating the secondhand market, both of which Debeers has excelled at for almost 100 years. Ticketmaster on the other hand, has nothing to gain by only selling 9,000 tickets and sitting on the other 1000 nor does the artist or promoter. that said I hate ticketmaster and have yet to pay a “convenience fee” but I buy tickets at the box office when I go somewhere. Also it is worth noting that without tickemaster the only people who would get tickets are those with the time/money/ability to camp out for huge periods of time outside the box office.

  17. ElizabethD says:

    Economic downturn + ticket-price inflation + scalpers = one huge FAIL for music fans.

    I bought two regular-priced tix for a Raconteurs concert in Boston next month, but with all the fees added on, the cost was well over $100. I know that’s probably cheap, too! I won’t spend that much for just any band, and I hate that the whole live-appearance industry has gotten so crazy. :-(

  18. dragonfire81 says:

    The problem is there are so many ticket brokers out there these days, from ones that are are full fledged online businesses to individuals doing it part time on ebay.

    That means virtually ALL tickets sold through ticketmaster end up in the hands of brokers. Unless you get lucky, it’s hard to find decent seats on there at all anymore.

    But you can sometimes get lucky, especially through ebay. Their prices are generally the lowest of any reseller (though still above face) but awhile back I managed to score floor seats to a WWE pay per view at FACE VALUE from ebay just because the bids never got that high.

    Ticketmaster does suck though.

  19. elcook says:

    Recently had a similar experience with the ticketmasters, trying to get Iron Maiden tix in nyc. Amazingly, sold out the day they went on sale, however, ticketsNow had thousands of seats, for many times the regular cost. Where’s Eddie Vedder when you need him!

    Isn’t this illegal?

  20. JiminyChristmas says:

    I think Ticketmaster will eventually be the source of their own undoing. If they keep this up they will draw the attention of state and/or federal regulators, if they haven’t already.

    Case in point: Last year the state of Minnesota repealed the laws that banned ticket reselling, i.e.: scalpers. In short order, resellers were using automated ticket buying programs to dominate online sales, and were driving individual buyers out of the market. Well, the shit hit the fan when the Hannah Montana concert came to town and all the parents of tween girls found they couldn’t get tickets because they were hoovered up by the resellers and were being resold for $150 and up.

    Inspired, no doubt by the shrieks of their heartbroken children, people started calling their legislators. The state is now considering a law that would ban the use of automated ticket buying programs within the state.

  21. ilikemoney says:

    Not to sound like some snobby indie scene hipster, but scenarios like this are one of the reasons that I avoid big-ticket concert events. Support your local music scene, and go to small-venue shows where you pay $10, at the most, for a more intimate musical experience, free of barricades and asshole security. There are plenty of bands that I still love and listen to, but that I refuse to see live because their tickets are sold through Ticketmaster.

  22. mike says:

    Does anyone have Ticketmaster going all the way?

    I have them going to the final four, being beat by Best Buy. Just curious.

  23. Pro-Pain says:

    @ilikemoney: I totally agree with your post. Ticketmaster has ruined concert going for me. I’d love to see them fall of the face of the earth.

  24. Pro-Pain says:

    @linus: I see Best Buy winning. Too many horrible stories come out of that dump.

  25. Hooper says:

    @ilikemoney: agreed.

  26. Is no one troubled by Ticketmaster’s reference to TicketsNow as its “partner site”? Strikes of anti-trust and consumer protection violations to me.

  27. mike says:

    @Pro-Pain: It’s a hard bracket! I’ve got Ticketmaster, Best Buy, TWC, and Monster cable going to the final four. What do you do when you get Best Buy and Monster pitted against each other? You almost want them both to win.

  28. mike says:

    Anyone know if Vegas has odds on the “Worst Company in America” contest?

  29. AaronZ says:

    I stated in the original post about this; Biggest. Scam. Ever!

    Ticketmaster sells tickets. They sell out *instantly*.

    Mysteriously, their ‘partner’ site (Ie: part of the same company), instantly has a bunch of tickets on sale for 300% more.

    Scammy mc-scams-alot.

    I don’t know how to fight this either.

  30. sweetnjoe says:

    Blame only yourself for going to ticketmaster and depending on them when you should be going directly to the venue.

    Business is business, people.

  31. B says:

    @AaronZ: Don’t buy the tickets. If nobody buys from the “partner” they will be forced to either sell the tickets at or below the original price, or lose a lot of money.

  32. littlemoose says:

    I buy a lot of concert tickets, mostly from Ticketmaster due to the convenience of buying online. Usually I am buying tickets to small indie shows, so ticket availability isn’t a problem. But: I did buy Radiohead tickets through Ticketmaster, and it was preposterous. I logged on immediately at 10:00 (had two computers going, in fact) and was still only able to get crappy seats. Crappy seats are better than no seats, definitely, but it still frustrated me. Why in hell were 2/3 of the seats gone before the public on-sale time?

    That being said, Radiohead is tomorrow night and I’m still really excited about it.

  33. EyeHeartPie says:

    @linus:
    I dunno…eBay/Paypal vs BestBuy is gonna be a close one.

  34. SacraBos says:

    @Skiffer: Actually, the artificial deflation of the supply is exactly what causes the blood diamond issue. After watching the movie “Blood Diamond”, my wife never wants another diamond (Woot!).

    But at least people aren’t killing each other over tickets in large quantities yet.

  35. @ilikemoney: That’s fine, but what if you like Radiohead, for example, and want to see them in concert?

  36. midniteslayr says:

    @AlteredBeast: Mr. Reznor does have Pre-sale on the NIN website for his fans, with a requirement to have ID present for tickets.

    Now, as much as I hate Ticketmaster, they have said that they will not presale blocks of tickets to their TicketsNow website. How much of that is true is up to the consumer, but that is what they said. What Ticketmaster needs to do is to make their website more secure as to not allow bots to get in and buy up all the tickets in one fail swoop. For the normal ticket buyer, it will take an average of about 10 mins to even select what tickets to buy in what section, and by that time, the really good tickets are gone.

  37. @sardonumspa: TicketBastard controls those too where I’m at. It really is a racket they’re running.

  38. LUV2CattleCall says:

    I’m Indian and I take offense to the term “Scalper”….

    Wait, I’m the Gandhi kind, not the Sitting Bull kind… Feel free to make like a downer cow and carrion.

  39. Murph1908 says:

    @B:

    Sure, if NOBODY buys the overpriced tickets. But that’s never going to happen. They don’t need to sell all the tickets to make money.

    I buy 100 tickets, and post them to sell at 3x their original price.

    I need only 34 suckers to recoup my costs.

    Any more than that is profit, even if I eat the tickets I don’t sell.

    Say I sell half the tickets at the inflated price. This is not the ‘market value’ of those tickets, as you can’t sell the full 100 at that price. But if I sell 50 at 300% of their cost, I make a 50% profit on my investment.

    Now that you have made your bank, you can sell off any remaining tickets BELOW COST and reap more profits. Of course, you do this low-key to maintain the illusion that you were at one time selling a high-demand commodity.

    The fans who really want to go and can pay are screwed. The fans who want to go but can’t justify paying 3X the cost are left disappointed.

  40. B says:

    @Murph1908: If you sell 50 of the tickets, and five minutes before the show you still have 50 left and I’m your only customer, I bet I could get one of them for whatever I wanted, though.

  41. coren says:

    @JiminyChristmas: A step in the right direction, but I see lots of scalpers shipping from New York or Massachusetts for concerts occurring in Seattle. Theoretically possible that they intended to go themselves and can’t – but not likely. So sadly, unless countrywide, the legislation wouldn’t be that effective.

  42. buzzybee says:

    Doesn’t this make sure that tickets are efficiently allocated to the people who value them most?

  43. ElizabethD says:

    @buzzybee:
    Efficiently, maybe; but not fairly. Shouldn’t the actual fan – let’s say not in a high income bracket – who wants to *see* the concert get a chance to buy tickets at the normal prices, instead of competing with the scalpers?

    I know; market forces blah blah. It’s correct, but it ain’t right.

  44. AmbiUbi says:

    Hmmm, while I still got just okay seats…I ordered my tickets through the livenation.com website, which is the actual concert promoter. Is that not an option for some people?

  45. Murph1908 says:

    @B:
    Nope.

    I have already created the misconception that these tickets are hard to get. I was smart enough to take it this far, I don’t suddenly get dumb. I don’t tell you I have 50 tickets left. I tell you I have 2.

    And when I offer them to you for face value, since it’s so close to show time, you’ll thank me for giving you a deal.

  46. Whitey Fisk says:

    @sardonumspa:

    I wanted to do that recently but the venue’s box office is only open Monday thru Friday. Tickets went on sale Saturday at 10am. Doesn’t really leave a lot of options.

  47. gamin says:

    That sucks I still quite grasp the concept of how tickets are sold on ticketmaster.

    BTW radio head won’t play creep, karma police, the bends or high and dry on their concerts at least on the WPB they didn’t bastards

  48. macinjosh says:

    @freakinalex:

    “Someone should really send the karma police after Ticketmaster.”

    Nice.

  49. newgalactic says:

    Big Radiohead fan here, but I feel like some of the blame should fall on them for contracting ticketmaster to be in charge of ticket distribution. If ticketmaster’s actions are becoming the norm, I will no longer buy items that promote such behavior. Sorry Radiohead, but you are judged by the friends you keep.

  50. oneTee says:

    don’t forget…for most concerts there’s a presale…so when you log on at 10am to get your tix, tons of tickets have already been sold. fan clubs usually get presale, then there’s the whole AmEx presale. if you’re going to be going to a concert, check out the fanclub first to see if they do a presale….usually it’s worth it to join if you really want to see the band and you’ll get great seats. i joined the Ben Folds fan club for that reason alone.

  51. idontfeelliketryingtocomeupwithagoodscreenname says:

    Ticketmaster owns TicketsNow. They also own SeatExchange.

  52. mariospants says:

    I vote Ticketmaster for WCOTY.

  53. sponica says:

    I usually don’t have to buy my tickets through ticketmaster. Don’t laugh but I am a big BNL fan, and therefore I’m entitled to pre-sales through their own website before normal people have to buy on Ticketmaster.

    Honestly, I think Ticketmaster was better before the days of the internet. I never had problems getting decent tickets to BNL or Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band even when I showed up to the Filene’s where Ticketmaster was located HOURS after the tickets had gone on sale.

  54. KarmaChameleon says:

    @buzzybee: So only people with ridiculous amounts of disposable income should be permitted to attend concerts.

    Ability to pay != how much one values an artist or a show.

  55. musitron says:

    I’m a huge Radiohead fan and got great seats for the West Palm Beach and Tampa shows, and here’s how:

    In Radiohead’s case, they have an official website called WASTE ([www.waste.uk.com] , yes, the domain extension is odd) and tickets for all the Radiohead shows went on sale there FIRST, two days ahead of TicketBastard. As rabid as Radiohead fans are, you can be certain that at least the entire front section of the theater was sold before TicketBastard even had a chance.

    WASTE is based in the UK and I had to pay equal fees for order processing and shipping from England, but at least I didn’t have to go through TicketBastard.

    For the person complaining about the setlist: Radiohead play a few of the oldest songs each night, and both of my shows they played almost the entire new album, which I prefer. They did play “Just” both nights, played “The Bends” in Tampa, and played “Bulletproof” (!!!) in WPB. With 24 songs in a set, they can’t please everyone each night. Both nights I saw them they played nearly all of “In Rainbows” and two or three songs off each other album except “Pablo Honey.” And come on, you can’t expect “Creep.” The song is 14 years old now and the band themselves have said they don’t like the song any more.

  56. ilikemoney says:

    @The Count of Monte Fisto: Well, then I feel sorry for you. Like I said, there are plenty of big-ticket bands that I love, but that I just refuse to see live if my only avenue to do so is through Ticketmaster. People need to quit playing the victim and take ownership of the problem. Tell this corporate bully that we’re sick of paying ridiculous prices (be it in mark-ups, or extra fees). Sooner or later, bands will feel the crunch and decide to take their business elsewhere.

  57. Lazlo Nibble says:

    Big Radiohead fan here, but I feel like some of the blame should fall on them for contracting ticketmaster to be in charge of ticket distribution.

    TicketMaster usually contracts with the venues, not with the artists/promoters.

  58. spursrthebest says:

    i’ve run into the same problem with ticketmaster. every time there’s a playoff game for the spurs the only option to get even balcony seats is the alternative service so that 17 dollar tickets start at 50 dollars at least. not much good for the average student basketball fan.

  59. sarcastibitch says:

    @elcook: I guess you didn’t see the prices for Eddie Vedder’s solo tour. I think the tickets were about $70 each before “convenience” charges and were only available at TicketMaster where they sold out in a matter of minutes and then appeared on re-sale sites immediately.

    Trent Reznor had a good idea when he decided to pre-sale tickets that would have your name on it and would have to be picked up with ID on the day of the show. Sure, that’d be slow and somewhat impractical to add ID checking to the ticket taking/bag searching/pat down at the door, but then scalpers and their ticket bots would have less of a chance, unless they sold fake IDs along with 400% marked up tickets.

    I’m lucky enough to live in a town that TicketMaster doesn’t have any venues in. Not that selectyourtickets.com is much better, but it’s someone else.

  60. Saying as how I’m a card-carrying member of Pearl Jam’s 10Club, I feel the need to chime in on this one.

    Lazlo is right about TicketMaster contracting with venues rather than artists. The rub comes in when the artists choose to play venues that use TicketMaster as their ticket seller.

    If at all possible, Pearl Jam will play a non-TicketMaster venue over a TicketMaster venue, even if it means smaller crowds and presumably, smaller revenues. Since they are a well established band, have an army of adoring fans and millions of albums sold, they can obviously afford to do this. Conversely, many bands cannot do this for a variety of reasons (needs to increase exposure, lack of power within the industry, being able to “take what you get,” etc.)

    The problem, as I see it here is that Radiohead plays cities in the US far less frequently than most other American bands, and is forced into playing larger venues which are invariably under TicketMaster control. If they decide to go the Pearl Jam route and play smaller venues, they’ll alienate their fan base by not having the seating to accommodate them.

    Yes TicketMaster sucks, but they’re so established within the music industry that there’s nothing really that you can do but avoid them whenever you can, like Eddie, Stone, Jeff, Mike, Matt and Boom do.

  61. fredmertz says:

    Ticketmaster owns TicketsNow, but they are not the sellers of the tickets on TicketsNow. It is merely a marketplace for licensed ticket brokers.

    Please, consumerist, how about doing a little bit of research, for crying out loud.

  62. newgalactic says:

    @LazloNibble: Big Radiohead fan here, but I feel like some of the blame should fall on them for contracting ticketmaster to be in charge of ticket distribution.

    “TicketMaster usually contracts with the venues, not with the artists/promoters.”

    …Choose a different venue, my assertion that Radiohead is judged by the friends the keep still stands.

  63. HaukAlcestis says:

    Same thing here in the UK with Madonna tickets. As part of the fan club pre-sale (before the general sale!) I selected a ticket type. Sorry, out of luck – but hey, try these scalpers we’re in league with, they mysteriously have plenty. Before the show even officially went on sale to anyone other than fan-club members. Now try telling me something fishy’s not going on.

  64. coren says:

    @sarcastibitch: There’s something like Ducat King or a similar sounding name that handles ticketsales for several bands now – if you buy through them, you get will call tickets and must present ID at the venue to get the tickets.

  65. JohnHaeru says:

    Go figure, I tried buying tickets for ticket master, their site
    continued to have errors until now, but there are only tickets left
    on their TicketsNow site for 4x the cost.