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Report: Ticketmaster colluded with scalpers

September 21, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Report: Ticketmaster colluded with scalpers

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Ticketmaster is facing accusations that the company has been conspiring with scalpers — and making double profits in the process — in a bruising weeks-long probe released by Canada’s CBC and the Toronto Star this week.

The news outlets assigned two undercover journalists to a live-entertainment conference in July, where Ticketmaster reps pitched them on TradeDesk, the company’s invite-only platform for the resale of tickets.

The platform allows resellers to buy tickets in bulk from Ticketmaster, and then put them on sale for higher prices — with Ticketmaster taking a cut of both sales — increasing or decreasing prices with the click of a button based on their evaluation of fan demand.

While Ticketmaster has taken legal action against bots and profiteers in the secondary market — including its own Verified Fan initiative, utilized recently by Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift, and others — the report busts a rep on camera indicating that Ticketmaster’s “buyer abuse” unit will look the other way when such methods occur on their platforms.

The rep, whose face is blurred in the footage, said “I have brokers that have a couple hundred accounts,” for purchasing tickets in bulk on TradeDesk. “It’s not something we look at or report.”

When queried regarding whether Ticketmaster will forbid scalpers who impede ticket-buying limits — a violation of the company’s usage terms — a different employee told one of the reporters, “We’ve spent millions of dollars on this.

The last thing we’d want is get brokers caught up to where they can’t sell inventory. We’re not trying to build a better mousetrap.”

In a presentation at a conference in March from which media was prohibited (but was attended by the undercover journalists), a Ticketmaster staffer said 100 scalpers in North America are utilizing TradeDesk to exchange between a few thousand and several million tickets annually.

“I think our biggest broker has probably grabbed 5 million,” he added.

The report also alleged that the company times the release of tickets to make it seem that demand is higher than it is, to drive fans to the higher-priced alternatives — and then issuing less-expensive tickets down the line.

In a statement in the story, Ticketmaster’s SVP of communications announced: “Ticketmaster is a platform that helps artists and teams connect with fans. We do not own tickets sold on our platform nor do we have any control over pricing — either in the sale or the resale. The seller sets prices. We do not determine when tickets are available for purchase or how they are allocated — those decisions are communicated by our client, the venue, after consultation with the event presenter.

“As long as there is an imbalance between supply and demand in tickets, there will inevitably be a secondary market,” the statement added. “As the world’s leading ticketing platform, we believe it is our job to offer a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in the primary and secondary markets.”

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