back to article Soon only Ticketmaster will rip you off: Concert scalper bots face US ban

The US Senate has unanimously passed a bill that will make it illegal to grab large quantities of online tickets with an automated bot. The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act prohibits both circumventing website controls that try to impose purchase limits and the sale of a ticket if it has been obtained through such a …

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    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Touts

      The question is: if I am prepared to pay someone to do this for me, and prevent me having to use binoculars to see the stage, then why shouldn't I?

      No reason at all, but wouldn't you prefer to get those tickets at the normal on-sale price, instead of having to pay a tout an 80% tip for being a middle-man?

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. lukewarmdog

      "I'm not going to get anything like that location if I do it myself"

      Why not?

      With no touts, when you phone up you will get the tickets that they are no longer getting.

      A lot of what is wrong with ticketing is a fan problem. Anyone who pays $1000 for a ticket that is $180 face value is the problem, not part of it, all of it.

      Anyone who thinks $180 for a ticket is acceptable.. also the problem.

      I'd like to see fake concerts set up, honeypots to bankrupt touts.

      I'd also like to see venues insisting that only the original purchaser can use the ticket. If you can't go, you return the ticket to the venue for resale.

      Having said all that.. I'm sure the law will do something to help the problem. Maybe. Can't hurt I guess, secondary ticketing needs to stop being a thing.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        How can you fool only the right people with a fake concert honeypot? It isn't as though scalpers have bots running loose just grabbing tickets to anything they can find. They're pointing them at particular events they know will be popular. If an unannounced Lady Gaga concert shows up on Ticketmaster after she's told her fans "this is a fake to screw the scalpers, don't buy these tickets" why are scalpers going to buy those tickets?

        Maybe instead of a fake deliberately add additional dates that are planned to be canceled later and rely on the way the refund process works to screw them somehow. Not sure exactly how, and it couldn't unduly inconvenience real customers, but maybe someone could think of something that makes it easy to refund a few tickets but makes it really difficult for one person to refund 1000 even if they have a bunch of credit cards under different names or however they are getting around the restrictions.

        1. Trilkhai

          Maybe instead of a fake deliberately add additional dates that are planned to be canceled later ... it couldn't unduly inconvenience real customers

          It'd definitely "inconvenience" real customers if they had to make plans in advance to attend a concert on a specific date — not to mention that by the time that concert date was canceled, the tickets for the 'real' concert days (or at least the good seats) would've sold out. If that was the only real chance the person had to go to a concert that year, losing it would be more than an inconvenience.

      2. Nick Kew Silver badge

        With no touts, when you phone up you will get the tickets that they are no longer getting.

        With no touts, the official promoters would have to build their profits into the official price. Or find some alternative way to reduce the amount seen by the taxman, and perhaps resented by the fans if faceless 'touts' aren't taking the blame.

        1. Turbo Beholder

          Indeed.

          This bullshit is so old, it's completely fossilized.

          "Surely THIS TIME one more stupid law will make an economical niche and problems that created it magically disappear" - watch Episode 99993.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Add those people...

        ... who spend $$$ to look pathetic "rockers" in their seventies trying to imitate their younger selves.... just for the nonsensical desire of feeling young again for an hour....

      4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        "I'd also like to see venues insisting that only the original purchaser can use the ticket. If you can't go, you return the ticket to the venue for resale."

        Because people never buy tickets as gifts.

        Because if I can't go due to a last-minute emergency, it's better to refund the tickets and have those seats unsold.

        Or, since it's more likely I won't have the leisure to return the tickets in time, it's better the seats remain empty and I pay for useless tickets than for a friend to use them instead. Or an acquaintance. Or a total stranger. I'd rather give them away than throw them away... but I'll have to throw them away anyway. That will show those dirty scalpers!

      5. gnasher729 Silver badge

        "I'd like to see fake concerts set up, honeypots to bankrupt touts."

        You don't really need fake concerts. Just make sure an arena is available for more than just one day. Announce a concert for day 1. Two minutes later it's sold out, announce a concert for day 2. And so on, until you don't get a sell-out.

        Obviously the band will have to play all the concerts, which will be sold out, and many of them with very little actual audience. They shouldn't have a problem with that because they will be fully paid for each concert.

  3. Magani
    Thumb Down

    Ticket scalping is not exactly new, ...

    I suspect it's been going on since Biggus Dickus was scalping tickets to the Colosseum.

    They're scum and should (like Ticketmaster and Ticketek) be offered up as gladiator fodder.

  4. elDog Silver badge

    The definition of pure capitalism - rape the consumer.

    Awe. Do I have to really say anything more to have my comment reported?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The definition of pure capitalism - rape the consumer.

      Indeed the practice should be extended to stocks. You buy the stock at the IPO if you want it and can never sell it for more than that price.

      Perhaps we could extend it to houses and avoid another crash ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The definition of pure capitalism - rape the consumer.

      Yay! Have an upvote fellow pinko.

  5. Number6

    My solution is to avoid buying tickets through Ticket Master (or a tout). If that means I don't go then think of all the money I've saved. These people can only get away with what they do because the tickets get bought despite the gouging.

    In the US you get companies trying it on offering the chance to pay on-line by credit or debit card but imposing a convenience fee of several dollars. I always wonder whose convenience they're thinking about, because to me, writing a cheque and putting it in an envelope is far cheaper and more convenient than paying the fee. I wonder which one costs them more to process?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bots aren't even the issue. The big boys in the resale world are pre-sold the tickets by TM et al, acting as re-sellers in the classic sense of the word*. This even amounts to things like quarterly sales targets and bonus systems. The platforms aren't being abused by resellers, this is exactly how they've been designed to work. TM take a big cut from the venue (as Live Nation), they take a big cut when the ticket is sold (as TM) and they take an even bigger cut when it's re-sold through GetMeIn.

    Ripe for some antitrust investigations, frankly.

    *Bots alone aren't enough to pull it off; you need multiple credit cards to work around the 2/4-ticket-per-card limit, which means you're either running a sweatshop full of people using separate cards, criminally abusing stolen cards or have a preferential relationship with the initial ticket seller.

    1. Turbo Beholder
      Childcatcher

      Indeed. Therefore what we see is likely to be yet another case of digging under something else entirely under pretence of an idolatrous scare.

      Admittedly, it's not as big as "think of teh childern", "clean power", etc but the spirit can be the same on a smaller scale and while scamming a different crowd.

  7. John Bobbit
    FAIL

    versus the UK

    Even the US aren't pretending that the "free market" will correct itself here. The USA makes automated ticket scalping illegal whilst the UK dithers..

    The states in the US make cannabis legal whilst the UK dithers..

    You'd think the UK was more backward than the US! oh..

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: versus the UK

      The UK isn't dithering. It just doesn't have the time to deal with petty issues like ticket scalping while it's busy building the perfect police state.

  8. Chipist

    Make it illegal to sell any ticket for more than face value including any fees. Then if you do end up with a ticket you can't use it can be sold online via an agent but only at face, any fees taken off the face value, which forces the agents to compete on fees. A bit like this new ruling in the UK about letting agents, similar concept. The original ticket buyer will suffer a small but acceptable loss.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I think of Ticketmaester..

    I think of overpriced shit like Kanye walking off after 3 minutes. Meanwhile starving talented artists of every genre cover the earth. Ticketmaester is for the elite, the rich and the stupid: Try and support local artists and stay away from corporate bloat!

    ==================================

    "There is no word yet, however, on whether Congress is also considering a bill to make it illegal for companies like Ticketmaster to charge ludicrous additional fees for doing absolutely nothing.

    There is the "service fee," which the ticket company charges for it going to the trouble of selling you the ticket. That can be anything from $15 to $50. Then there's the "processing fee," which supposedly covers the cost of the purchasing platform. That is often around $2.50 per ticket.

    Then the "delivery fee" if you choose anything but an e-ticket. Also typically $2.50 a ticket. Plus sometimes you get a "convenience fee," which is a charge for letting you use your credit card in the online ticket system that you have already paid for, even though you don't have any other option but to use a credit card.

    And then there is often a "facility fee" that the venue can add on whenever it fancies because presumably they forgot to include the cost of actually running an event in the ticket price.

    In short, all the fees will often add up to half or more of the actual ticket price.

    Of course, that rip-off percentage drops if you're forced to buy your ticket from a third party because the system you paid extra for fails to prevent scalpers from grabbing all the tickets seconds after they were made available."

    1. JLV Silver badge

      Re: When I think of Ticketmaester..

      Hmmm, even small venues showcasing more eclectic artists tend to use TM. You really struggle to avoid TM altogether.

      I tend to do on-location pickups or TM outlets pickups. Less $$$ that way, usually 10-15$ cad. I also often just go to a show and buy tix from random folk whose buddies can't come. Usually at about face value. Not ripped off to date - fraud's not worth it on 60-70$ events.

      But, yeah, Kanye/Kathy Perry/Gaga and $150+ face value concert tix are a lot of what's wrong with live events nowadays. Well, that and KP couldn't sing her butt out of a wet toilet paper bag. At least you avoid that if you go see smaller artists. But not neccessarily TM :(

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Even email delivery costs money

      How much does it cost to send an email?

      Yet I see £2.50 delivery fee even for email.

      This whole thing (touts/bots/charges) is a huge issue. How can a Bieber concert sell out in 8 seconds without the bots?

      This means that the real fans don't get a chance to buy a ticket without paying through the nose.

      I can remember queuing up outside Brighton Dome to pay my £4 to see Pink Floyd open their 1972 UK Tour. We were treated to a very early DSOTM but that is another story.

      Then there were the evenings at the Marquee. No advance tickets, just queue up outside.

      These days, I've even seen the touts out at places like 'The Anvil' in Basingstoke for a gig.

      For real music (and theatre etc) lovers this is not progress.

      The other thing I hate is paying lots of money 9 months in advance for a gig. Who gets the interest on that money between the time that tickets go on sale and the show?

      Yours a grumpy old rock fan.

      1. Commswonk Silver badge

        Re: Even email delivery costs money

        Erratum: How can a Bieber concert sell out in 8 seconds without the bots?

        There; that's better...

      2. AbelSoul

        Re: Even email delivery costs money

        Yes. I have grudgingly paid £2.50 to TicketBastard on more than one occasion for the "privilege" of printing out my own ticket.

        Come the revolution, first order of business:

        Ticket prices will be all-inclusive by law.

        If a gig is advertised at twenty squids, then all you should pay is twenty squids, including standard delivery.

  10. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    The issue is that the ticketmasters of the world don't care there's a problem with automated ticket sales and scalping.

    Rather than tackle the result, they should be legislating the cause. One option might be to make it illegal to sell tickets to people not providing, say, driver's licence number at the point of sale and make sure that person has to produce and have meaningful check of that same said driving licence when entering the venue.

    1. DaLo

      Sounds simple but - if you don't have a driving licence you can't go? If you are a genuine purchaser and have booked a hotel and travelled 500 miles for a concert only to realise you left your licence at home, is that fair? You lose your licence or it is stolen a few days before?

      It's a bit like DRM - you do it to stop the bad guys but it just makes it a PITA for the good guys.

      1. Tim Hughes

        @DaLo - Still better than the alternative

        While that would indeed be very sad for the forgetful person concerned, the reduction in scalping would massively improve the whole ticket buying experience for the other 99.95% of fans who didn't make that mistake, so on balance well worth it imo.

        Also, what is to stop the person who forgets their ID just forgetting their ticket instead, no real difference.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      No need to be as specific as a driving license

      Just print a name on the ticket, and require any photo ID that matches the name on entry. Works for airlines.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ticket less entry

    I work in The SSE Hydro in Glasgow and on Tuesday night at Biffy Clyro we had a ticket less gig(you could only get in by using the card you bought the tickets with and showing photographic id). It was Biffy Clyro that decided on this to stop the touts and going by what I seen and from talking to fans it worked.

    After the gig was finished we were told that as it was deemed a success, the hydro will have a few more ticket less entry gigs in 2017 and if it continues to be deemed successful in stopping the touts, then by 2018 all gigs in the hydro will be ticket less entry. The only problem they need to work out how to solve is people getting bought the tickets as presents, especially if the ticket are bought by someone who isn't going to the gig or stays 100's miles away.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Ticket less entry

      Brilliant! Yes, if they can solve the gift issue, this is a winner.

      1. OldTimer1955

        Re: Ticket less entry

        Print the name on the ticket as a previous poster said. Simples. And you can put someone else's name on - just like you can for an air ticket. Named ticket plus id* (or the threat of random verification) gets you in.

        I'd much rather go down a RyanAir path of being charged to make a change than suffer the online ticket scalpers.

        * http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/06/feature_when_you_can_be_id_checked_in_uk/

    2. Another Brick

      Re: Ticket less entry

      This is ok but presupposes I'm buying a ticket for myself. What if I'm purchasing the ticket for someone else as a gift, which is something I do frequently ? The reseller needs to ensure that this is catered for as an option at the point of sale.

  12. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Vote with your feet

    Ticketmaster is why I quit going to events years ago - recently I was asked if I could find tickets to Hamilton in New York. About the best you can do is a ticket for a $175 seat for about $800 (this is in November 2017) and that is through Ticketmaster who are the MAJOR PROBLEM. Ticketmaster is the tout- they are reselling the tickets that the touts bought from them.

    Everyone seems comfortable these days with the airlines policy of non-transferable tickets - let's do it for events. Allow punters who bought a ticket that they couldn't use to return it to the vendor for a credit against a future purchase and allow the vendor to resell the ticket at the list price.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    "unfair or deceptive act or practice,"

    And yet man-in-the-middle "high frequency trading" will still be legal.

    What's the difference?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder what TM use now

    Back in the day it was a custom DB running on a custom OS on DEC 11's, supporting about 10x the number of terminals as VMS, but a bitch to troubleshoot bugs on.

    Anon because..

  15. Another Brick

    Obvious Answer

    The answer to this entire conundrum is patently obvious. Announce the tickets and then auction them off over a set period. The tickets will find their way into the hands of the fans and find their true market value.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obvious Answer

      Obvious, but won't be popular. The touts prove that the true market value is typically far above the face value; that's not going to please the many people who complain that tickets are too expensive already.

      I suppose it comes down to who you'd prefer to see pocketing the difference between the face value and the market value of those U2 tickets: some shifty spiv with possible links to organised crime, or Bono. Hmm, it's a conundrum for sure.

  16. Joe Drunk
    Pint

    Local artists & venues offer better experience

    I haven't been to a TM sponsored event since 2003 and I overpayed for my tickets because it sold out in seconds thus being forced to buy from a reseller.

    I'm so old I have actually gone to the box office of an arena where AC/DC were playing and purchased tickets a few rows from the stage with cash. Ahh the good ole days.

    I love live music. It's so much better going to smaller venue such as a pub/dance hall where a local artist or cover band is performing. A small cover charge at the door, free parking, closer to home..

    Even the local watering hole has live bands on Saturday nights. Safe to say TM won't be seeing anymore of my money.

    Support local talents and your local bartenders.

    1. Gary Moore's Plectrum

      Re: Local artists & venues offer better experience

      Sitting down at an AC/DC gig? You're doing it wrong...

      1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

        Re: Local artists & venues offer better experience

        Re: sitting down at an AC/DC gig

        I think, for many, the spirit is willing but the body is weak. Pains in joints, high blood-pressure and one too many cigarettes haven't helped and the typical fan isn't 17 any more.

  17. James Marten
    Mushroom

    The artists could fix the problem

    If they really wanted to, of course. Refuse to play at any venue that sells tickets exclusively through any company that also owns or controls a ticket reselling website, or allows its tickets to be sold secondhand - unless they can only be sold at face value. They may lose out on some lucrative shows in the short term, but so do the venues - and as soon as one complies, they will all have to...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The artists could fix the problem

      TicketMaster and AEG own or have monopolistic contracts covering every venue of note. The artists would be stuck playing the upstairs room of pubs.

      1. JLV Silver badge

        Re: The artists could fix the problem

        On the TM gougery side of things, not the scalper/tout bit, that's the core problem. TM is way too dominant in this market. Introduce real competition and prices will go down. They should not get away with exclusivity contracts.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/16/arts/music/string-cheese-incident-takes-on-ticketmaster.html

  18. Turbo Beholder
    Facepalm

    So let me get this straight...

    It's really cheaper to buy a bunch of lobbyist once than to introduce it as a corporate policy and have an admin competent enough to implement it?

  19. d3vy Silver badge

    So.. can't use a bot.. how much is a warehouse full of offshore labour?

  20. JulieM Silver badge
    Stop

    There is an easier way

    There is an easier way, that will teach ticket touts a lesson they will not forget in a hurry. Alright, it will require a little effort, and maybe even some small amount of misery. But, you know, nothing as bad as your parents' or grandparents' generations had to endure fighting for the rights we seem happy to piss away.

    If you want to put a ticket tout out of business, all you have to do is: Not buy tickets off them. It's as simple as that. Let them spend a fortune on buying all the available tickets to a gig ..... Then, when the day of the event rolls around, leave them holding so many worthless pieces of paper.

    It doesn't require the passing of any new laws, and therefore it doesn't carry the risk of introducing any unintended consequences. It does require you to make an effort, and to miss a gig by your favourite artist. But it's still really not much, compared to the effort that was required to secure things like votes for women, paid annual holiday, no death penalty for property crimes or any of the things that people living in a civilised society can take for granted.

    You will have to sustain yourself throughout the missed gig by imagining the priceless expression on the poor ticket tout's face, as the opening time of the concert approaches and his fear of being left without a single sold ticket becomes an inevitability and his dream of getting rich becomes a nightmare.

    All you have to do is not pay the prices ticket touts are asking. You don't even need to stand outside the venue with placards, banners and a brazier, calling other concert-goers scabs. (But it's as good a way as any of getting on the TV news, if you are really bored.)

    But unless you are prepared actually to do something, then the ticket touts will have won.

  21. Steve 129

    TM resale on own site

    I tried to get tickets from TM a while back for a high demand concert and in less than 3 minutes there were already over a thousand tickets ON THE TM RESALE SITE !!!

    One way to reduce the scalping (and abuse by TM) would possibly be to have a lock out period where tickets could not be re-sold (especially on the original sale site) say for 30 days after initial public release.

    I was disgusted at TM (as I always am) at allowing people to but tickets then IMMEDIATELY put them back up for re-sale at 3x the original price.

    In the past TM were also sued for illegal contracts with venues, but as with all these types of cases their 'penalty' was about $2.59 and a stiff telling off !!!

    There needs to be some real pain to these companies when they are found to be doing things illegally.

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