YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Finding affordable concert tickets is getting harder each day.
When a big act announces a concert, tickets are sometimes gone within just a few minutes.
That’s because of scalpers and “ticket bots,” software that can buy hundreds of tickets in an instant.
Often, those seats that were purchased show up later for a higher price on a secondary website like Stub Hub. Those tickets are sometimes three to four times the face value.
Until there’s some legislation to stop it, there’s not much you as a consumer can do, according to the Covelli Centre’s director of marketing and sales, Kelsey Klim.
“It’s not different than the people that are standing outside any major arena in the country… only they’re hiding behind a computer,” she said.
In addition to problems getting tickets, Klim said sometimes the tickets that people buy on secondary websites end up to be fake.
“There’s been plenty of times where we have people come in on a sold-out show. They think they have a ticket. A lot of times, they spend two or three times more than the face value and they don’t have an actual ticket. The seat doesn’t exist,” she said.
There’s one artist who’s fighting back against these ticket bots.
Country singer Eric Church recently announced on Twitter that he would be canceling thousands of tickets sold on secondary markets. He said it was in an effort to get face-value tickets to fans.
We are releasing 2,400 tickets taken from scalpers in KC, Tulsa, Dallas, Little Rock, and Southaven! On sale, TODAY at 12 CST on venue sites pic.twitter.com/nB5H0joj3H
— Eric Church (@ericchurch) January 17, 2017
Investigators in New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office cited a single broker that bought 1,012 tickets within one minute to a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden when they went on sale in 2014, despite the vendor’s claim of a four-ticket limit. That broker and one other had 15,000 tickets to U2’s North American shows.
“They buy thousands of tickets across the U.S., not just mine, and they end up making a fortune,” Church said in an interview. “They use fake credit cards, fake IDs. All of this is fraud.”
Ohio State Senator Joe Schiavoni said he also has fell victim to the ticket bots recently and had to pay 40 percent over the face value for Bruno Mars tickets that were said to be sold out.
“It’s unfair price gouging,” he said. “Not only on people in the Mahoning Valley or in the state, but all across the country.”
In December, former President Barack Obama passed the “Better Online Ticket Sales Act,” which makes those ticket bots illegal. Schiavoni said, however, there’s still work that needs to be done.
“The federal law is a good first step, but we just have to see as a state how we compare our laws in order to fill those holes, if there are holes, after that first step gets enacted,” he said.
The ticket bots aren’t just hurting the concert-goers, Klim said. They’re also hurting the concert facility.
“The building’s not getting facility fees, which helps make our building run. The promoter of the show is not able to be profitable, which again, makes it better to have shows. We’re in a business, too, so we need to make money as well,” she said.
Klim recommended always going through Ticketmaster to buy your tickets or going to the venue’s box office in person. That way, you know the ticket you buy is real.
Schiavoni plans to speak with the Ohio Attorney General about this issue to see if there’s some sort of legislation that can be put in place.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office released a statement in response to further legislation against ticket bots:
We’ve received a small number of complaints from consumers relating to how quickly shows have sold out and tickets have appeared on the secondary market. However, none of the ticketing companies have provided any information to us relating to widespread problems.
Prior to the enactment of the BOT Act, our ability to take action would have been rather limited under the Ohio CSPA. The ticket bots circumvent sellers’ protections against bulk unauthorized bulk ticket purchases, so it’s not a clear consumer transaction. Our best argument would have been to have argued that the reselling the tickets at a higher price would be an unfair or unconscionable act, but that would be a bit of a stretch.
The entities who would have the best information about ticket bots would have been TicketMaster and other ticket retailers. To the best of our knowledge, they never provided us with any information regarding the use of bots or the identity of any suspected bot users.”