The downtown arena glows. Lights flashing into the sky. Nearby bars and restaurants are packed and noisy with laughter and voices. The streets are swarming with people wearing band t-shirts or sports jerseys. Most of them have tickets, heading toward the front gate to get their bags checked and find their seats. Peppered throughout the hordes, however, are the familiar faces holding signs that read, “I need tickets” or “I have tickets.” They’re the scalpers – and, many would argue, they’re a prerequisite piece of the stadium show/game/event experience.
Many of them have loud voices. They shout above the crowds. Some people don’t bother to buy tickets beforehand, knowing that the scalpers will be there selling the same product.
Why bother buying from Ticketmaster when the guy in khaki pants and a hoodie is always standing their on the corner of 7th Street?
And Ticketmaster, something like the godfather of (legal) tickets in America, is as well aware of this phenomenon as we are. And, like any good capitalist corporation, they decided to capitalize on both markets.
Tickets are tickets are tickets… Right?
But now Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation are being sued for working directly with ticket resellers. According to a class action lawsuit filed Friday in California federal court, Ticketmaster “actively encourages scalpers to resell event tickets on its site because it collects a fee on both the initial sale and resale.”
“Have you ever wondered why Ticketmaster has been unable to rid itself of the scalpers who purchase mass quantities of concert or sports tickets from its website and then resell them for much more minutes later?” “The answer: Ticketmaster hasn’t wanted to rid itself of scalpers because, as it turns out, they have been working with them…”
The investigation has been going on for some time: The CBC and the Toronto Star published the results of their investigations in mid-September, and, according to the report, representatives from Ticketmaster’s professional reseller program, TradeDesk, revealed to undercover journalists that the resell division makes a point not to police users who have bought tickets in bulk from Ticketmaster’s main division – including (or especially) those users buying through bots and fake identities; i.e. Ticketmaster secretly helps scalpers buy tickets en masse for resale, and then collects kickbacks from their secondary sale through their “well-regulated” platforms.
While Ticketmaster’s secondary market is legitimate, allowing this sort of mass resale violates the their own stated policies.
“Indeed, on its own website, Ticketmaster refers to the activity of professional scalpers as ‘unfair competition… But now it has been caught secretly permitting, facilitating and actively encouraging the sale of tickets by scalpers on the secondary market using its TradeDesk platform — all for a second cut on those sales.”
Lead plaintiff in the case, Allen Lee, is suing Ticketmaster along with its parent company Live Nation Entertainment for “unfair business practices and unjust enrichment.”
And now the politicians are involved as well: Two U.S. Senators, Jerry Moran (R-Kan) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), have reportedly sent a letter to Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino asking for further clarification about the program.
For more interesting arena news you don’t need a ticket to enjoy, read this next: The Minnesota Whitecaps join the National Women’s Hockey League