Ticketmaster Bends You Over Twice With No Lube To Help Scalpers

In a new report by CBC News, the outlet details a secret program Ticketmaster has been running which aids scalpers in selling tickets on the secondary market for additional fees.

CBC News sent two investigative reporters who posed as professional scalpers to Ticket Summit 2018, a ticketing and live entertainment convention at Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace. At the July conference, the journalists (who were equipped with hidden cameras) were pitched on Ticketmaster’s professional ticket reselling program and were told that Ticketmaster’s resale division will not go after scalpers using ticket-buying bots or fake identities if they use Ticketmaster’s newly launched resell program, TicketDesk, which the company has kept under wraps from the general public.

Said one Ticketmaster sales representative, “I have brokers that have literally a couple of hundred accounts. It’s not something that we look at or report.”

At Ticket Summit 2018, Ticketmaster representatives were actively trying to recruit professional scalpers to use their new ticket reselling platform, TicketDesk, which the company proclaimed is “The most powerful ticket sales tool. Ever.” During a session—which was closed to the media—with Casey Klein, Ticketmaster Resale director, dubbed “We appreciate your partnership: More brokers are listing with Ticketmaster than ever before,” the company introduced scalpers to TicketDesk. The application lets scalpers upload large quantities of tickets purchased from Ticketmaster and quickly re-list them on the secondary market. Notes CBC News, “With the click of a button, scalpers can hike or drop prices on reams of tickets on Ticketmaster’s site based on their assessment of fan demand.”

Notably, on the trade show floor, Ticketmaster salespeople reportedly handed out cupcakes and provided online demonstrations of TradeDesk. CBC News notes that one presenter, who was unaware he was speaking to journalists, doubled down on the fact that Ticketmaster’s resale division was not interested in going after scalpers who use bots or fake identities to purchase large quantities of tickets. He also noted that while Ticketmaster does have a division that monitors for “buyer abuse” and blatantly suspicious online activity, the resale division doesn’t police TradeDesk users.

On the topic of using bots to buy tickets, said the presenter, “We don’t share reports, we don’t share names, we don’t share account information with the primary site. Period.” He also added that “We’ve spent millions of dollars on this tool [TradeDesk]. The last thing we’d want to do is get brokers caught up to where they can’t sell inventory with us.” In fact, the presenter almost encouraged scalpers to purchase more than the alotted per-person limit, noting, “If you want to get a good show and the ticket limit is six or eight … you’re not going to make a living on six or eight tickets.”

Allegedly, around 100 scalpers in North America (primarily in the United States) use TradeDesk to move anywhere from a few thousand to several million tickets per year. CBC News reports that one Ticketmaster representative believed that their biggest broker uses the application to move around five million tickets annually.

Ticketmaster’s professional reseller program and TradeDesk platform are suspiciously absent from Ticketmaster’s website and corporate reports. Predictably, it seems as those the ticket-selling giant has been keeping the program under wraps, given the public outrage the program would likely incite. In fact, notes CBC News, “To access the company’s TradeDesk website, a person must first send in a registration request.”

The Ticketmaster reselling program stands to be a lucrative move for the company. The company will be able to collect fees on the initial sale of a ticket, and then collect additional fees when the ticket is resold on the secondary market at inflated prices. CBC News obtained a copy of Ticketmaster’s official reseller handbook, which outlined the company’s reward system for scalpers as well as the fees it would charge for re-selling tickets. It also noted that it would reward scalpers who hit specific monetary milestones, such as selling $500,000 or $1 million in annual sales, by reducing the percentage of Ticketmaster’s fees.

To read the full report on CBC News, head here.


UPDATE:

Statement from Ticketmaster
It is categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers.

Ticketmaster’s Seller Code of Conduct specifically prohibits resellers from purchasing tickets that exceed the posted ticket limit for an event. In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the purpose of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale.

A recent CBC story found that an employee of Ticketmaster’s resale division acknowledged being aware of some resellers having as many as 200 TradeDesk accounts for this purpose (TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s professional reseller product that allows resellers to validate and distribute tickets to multiple marketplaces). We do not condone the statements made by the employee as the conduct described clearly violates our terms of service.

The company had already begun an internal review of our professional reseller accounts and employee practices to ensure that our policies are being upheld by all stakeholders. Moving forward we will be putting additional measures in place to proactively monitor for this type of inappropriate activity

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