Apr
08

Time for Attorney General to Investigate Ticketmaster

This morning tickets went on sale for Mumford & Sons playing at The Walt, a 5,500 seat venue, in June. Unfortunately, according to several accounts, the event was SOLD OUT at the time the “public” sale began. It appears that all of the event’s tickets were sold during the “pre-sale” that was only available to iPhone owners earlier in the week. So a city-owned facility is hosting a public event, however only those with an expensive phone had the privilege of buying tickets.

Tickets for Taylor Swift went on sale today as well, and the presale for that event began on Tuesday. My sister reported to me that within seconds of being able to get into Ticketmaster’s sale page, only 200-level seats were available.

Honestly I don’t care about who makes the phone involved in the Mumford sale, however I do have a problem, a BIG problem, with the lack of access the general public had to these tickets in a publicly owned venue. In the past presales have included a small block of tickets, often the best tickets. However the problem of finding accessible good seats at the time of the “public” sale has gotten out of hand. Several times in the last decade I have been on Ticketmaster.com the very second tickets became available for Walnut Creek seats, yet not a single time have I gotten seats in the venue’s front three sections.

Something is going on here. Is it that Ticketmaster is shunting all of these tickets to StubHub for extremely higher prices? Are they giving all of those seats to the promoter? Are presales the only way to get decent seats now?

I don’t mind the free market deciding the value of tickets, however the free market should have “free access” to seats at the market price, especially if the ticket seller implies that the limited supply tickets is available.

Because of the unjust nature of obtaining tickets at the time of the “public” sale, I will no longer assist ticket promoters with their sham by reporting this ticket sale time in my announcements. Instead I will either post the presale times or simply abstain from posting the information as it seems irrelevant and misleading altogether. In the meantime the State of North Carolina’s Attorney General’s office should investigate Ticketmaster’s operations for possible antitrust activity with events in our public venues.

21 Comments

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  • hackles10 Said:

    StubHub is listing 752 tickets for sale less than 2 hours after the public sale time. Thats nearly 15% of the venues total tickets already on stubhub w/ 100% markups or more!

  • dt Said:

    While I agree with everything you wrote, I did want to mention that pre-sale tickets were available to those without iphones as well via a code sent out by Live Nation. It didn’t help that much, at 10:04 of the presale, the best tickets I could get were the last row of the first section.

  • Jimmy Rogers Said:

    I agree with your analysis completely.

    As you’ve seen, I’ve been on this on Facebook. I purchased my tickets yesterday using the iPhone app five minutes after the presale began. My tickets are in section 7 on the 5th row. I assumed that the presale section, contrary to your supposition and common logic, was NOT starting with the best seats. As I checked periodically through the day, being irritated with the tickets I got, the tickets got worse, and then reported as being not available.

    This morning, I was logged in on 2 computers and the iPhone app within 1 minute of the public sale, and the tickets were in section 4 (the very corner – worse than the ones from yesterday). When I refreshed, it was lawn, and finally, upon the 3rd refresh, sold out.

    A friend did go to the box office and indicated she got decent seats…

  • bc/nc Said:

    Sounds like a good idea, Dana. As a catalyst, maybe bring it to Dave Menconi’s attention at N&O as well.

  • Danielle Said:

    Mike tried to get tickets right at 10AM and there were no 2 seats together. He is a huge fan and has been looking forward to this for months, before it was even officially announced. I definitely agree that these exclusive pre-sales are not fair!

  • DPK Said:

    Who do I call or visit in person to complain about this? I wanted tickets but am now disappointed.

  • dt Said:

    File a consumer complaint with the The North Carolina Attorney General http://www.ncdoj.gov/Consumer/2-2-12-File-a-Complaint.aspx. Just a note, complaints are public records if you are worried about that sort of thing, you can also call them and talk to someone.

  • chris Said:

    I was able to get 4 grass seats right at 10 with no presale or phone.

  • JeffS Said:

    TM and stub hub have already been sued for doing exactly what you describe. There’s little to no information about the results, so it was probably settled again.

    TM obviously has enough money spread around to allow them to maintain their business practices.

  • Kate Said:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I even have an iPhone and tried to access the pre-sale but was not able to buy tickets. It’s unfortunate that so many people buy tickets only to sell them at at least double the price…get a real job!

  • John Said:

    There’s a good article from Wired’s November issue about TM and despite how awful they are that it is nearly impossible for smaller ticket providers to compete and little incentive for venue owners to steer away from them.

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/11/mf_ticketmaster/

  • Dana Said:

    I’ll have to look at that article, John.

    After stewing over this for a few days, I think that the right move is for the City Council or the State Govt to create a law requiring that public ticket sales for a publicly owned venue must contain X% of the seating (in all price tiers) to be available. I think that musicians’ fans clubs should certainly be able to reserve a block of tickets, as should the promoter/venue operator. However it only seems fair to guarantee the general public 2/3 of the seats, for example, for the time that the public ticket sales begin.

    If Ticketmaster doesn’t like it, they are free to build their own $5 million amphitheater.

  • Adam Chasen Said:

    I agree with contacting the DOJ, but also vote with “your” business. Contact your city council representative and encourage them to seek an alternative ticketing system. We may have less headliners, but at least we will be able to get tickets (and the city more money).

  • Abby Said:

    I bought Mumford & Sons tickets when they went on sale online. I’m in section 2, row P. No idea if that’s good or not. I did hear that Stub Hub bought up a bunch of tickets really quickly, and I do think it’s unfair, but I don’t know that this is public space like a park or a road. I’ll take action when I know what the right action is. I’m just not sure what that is exactly.

  • Tom Said:

    Lots of misinformed, bad info and ridiculous complaining on here.

  • Steve Said:

    FWIW – My Iphone app told me that the event was sold out @ 10:04 am the day of the presale. From what I’m seeing here that may not have been the case. Buggy software perhaps?

  • Dana Said:

    Could you be a little more vague, Tom?

  • ken sly Said:

    Tom, I would love to hear why you think ANY of this is ridiculous complaining? I complain because there is no way I can compete with a bank of computers “purchasing” blocks of tickets.

  • David Said:

    Dana,

    Quick question and I don’t know the answer to be honest.

    Does Mumford and Sons pay the venue to use it? If so why should the city require them to offer a certain amount of tickets to the public when they go on sale?

  • Dana Said:

    David,
    I believe the promoter of the show hires the band, rents the facility, rents the sound/light rig, hires production crew, and sells the tickets. Because there is limited, first-come, first-serve availability of the product, the announcement of availability to the “Public” at a certain time implies that all levels of tickets listed will, indeed, be reasonably available on a FCFS condition. If the venue is advertising that certain tickets would be available but doesn’t actually offer them, then it is a false advertisement.
    Like I said above, if Tickemaster can’t live with OUR venue setting reasonable rules of availability, they are welcome to buy some premium downtown land, build their own amphitheater, and operate it any way they please.

  • David Said:

    “Like I said above, if Tickemaster can’t live with OUR venue setting reasonable rules of availability, they are welcome to buy some premium downtown land, build their own amphitheater, and operate it any way they please.”

    Or go to Cary, Durham, or other places. :)

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