Ticketmaster partners with scalpers to rip you off, two undercover reporters say

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Ticketmaster is reportedly recruiting professional scalpers in order to get more money from customers and expand its resale business, according to undercover investigations by CBC News and The Toronto Star published Wednesday.

In July, reporters from the publications went undercover at an industry convention called Ticket Summit in Las Vegas. Ticketmaster representatives told the journalists that its resale division doesn’t report scalpers who use bots and fake identities to buy several tickets and resell them at a higher price on the site. Ticketmaster makes money from the extra resale fees. 

‘I have brokers that have literally a couple of hundred accounts,’ a Ticketmaster sales representative told the reporters, according to CBC. ‘It’s not something that we look at or report.’

Ticketmaster and its owner Live Nation didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Within the last year, Ticketmaster created a ticket sales tool called TradeDesk, which reportedly lets scalpers upload the tickets they buy from the company’s site and quickly put them up for resale. They can easily raise or drop prices on several tickets based on demand. 

Ticketmaster’s terms of use say customers can’t ‘order a number of tickets for an event that exceeds the stated limit for that event.’ That number is usually six or eight tickets. The general terms and conditions also say, ‘Use of automated means to purchase tickets is strictly prohibited.’

 

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Still, resellers who break those rules reportedly won’t get in trouble.

‘We don’t spend any time looking at your Ticketmaster.com account. I don’t care what you buy. It doesn’t matter to me,’ a TradeDesk sales executive told The Star. ‘There’s total separation between Ticketmaster and our division. It’s church and state … We don’t monitor that at all.’

Ticketmaster has a ‘buyer abuse’ division that monitors suspicious activity, but a presenter at the convention reportedly said the resale division doesn’t call out users of TradeDesk.

‘We don’t share reports, we don’t share names, we don’t share account information with the primary site. Period,’ he told CBC.

Allegations about Ticketmaster working with scalpers emerged following a 2017 lawsuit the company filed, which claims three ticket brokering companies used bots to ‘improperly procure tickets for the purpose of reselling them at a substantial profit.’ 

Prestige Entertainment West Inc., one of the companies, responded by claiming that Ticketmaster uses its site to ‘deceive consumers and line its pockets from double-dip commissions.’ It alleged the majority of resale activity is obvious, yet Ticketmaster doesn’t do anything to prevent it. It also claimed Ticketmaster uses bots on its site. 

Ticketmaster denied those claims.

Ticketmaster executives have said resellers are a problem, and that it uses its Verified Fan algorithm on popular shows to determine whether to sell someone a ticket. 

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