Since ticket scalping’s legalization, consumers don’t stand a chance

Next to spam and robocalls, there’s not much that can rile up consumers more than the questionable operators of websites who buy up event tickets and scalp them.

The latest example comes from the St. Cloud Times which reports that people trying to get tickets at the city’s Paramount theater have had to pay up to 1,000 times the face value of the ticket for, in this case, a Pink Floyd tribute band.

The price is the free market at work made possible by bots, computer programs that snatch up available tickets for ticket resellers.

Consumers don’t stand a chance against computers. This week, Ticketmaster sued a reseller for buying 40-percent of the tickets for Hamilton, Variety reports.

Ticketmaster launched its own investigation after determining that Prestige was able to buy up a majority of its tickets to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas in 2015, according to the suit, and only recently became fully aware of the vast extent of Prestige’s activities.

The company says that Prestige goes to great lengths to conceal the identity of the purchaser, including using multiple credit cards, email addresses, and IP addresses, in order to evade Ticketmaster’s order limits.

The suit alleges that Prestige also rents high-speed bandwidth and storage from third-party colocation facilities, thereby gaining an edge over customers who access sales through traditional service providers. Most of the Mayweather-Pacquiao orders came from just five colocation providers: Desert Cloud LLC, Nth Air, NSI Hosting, Mac MINI Colos, and Galaxy Internet. Ticketmaster’s investigators tracked the identities of those accounts back to Prestige, the suit alleges.

Ticket scalping has been legal in Minnesota since 2007. There’s nothing the venues can do about who’s buying up all the tickets, the Times says.

“The word ‘scalping’ is kind of negative, but it’s not really illegal in this case,” said Bob Johnson, executive director of the Paramount Center for the Arts, who says buying tickets directly from the venue is the proper route. “These are legitimate resale marketplaces.”

“You have to make sure that you’re on our real website. We’re looking at adding a blurb when we mail out tickets to people that reminds them to continue using our website in the future, so they can avoid the resale sites,” Johnson said.

Perhaps the resellers shouldn’t have been allowed to scoop up tickets in the first place.

That’s Ontario’s view. Yesterday, the provincial government announced it will target scalping in a new consumer protection bill banning ticket bots and the sale of tickets that were purchased using bots, limiting the resale price of tickets to 50 per cent above face value, requiring ticket outlets to disclose additional information and establishing new measures to enforce the rules.

It will also require venues to say how many tickets are available to the general public, and it would require anyone reselling tickets to list their names and contact information to help buyers decide if the ticket is legit.