Ticketmaster recruits scalpers to promote resale business, undercover investigation reports

Bessie Dean
September 21, 2018

Ticket sites are plagued by scalpers and re-sellers who use automated programs to buy huge quantities of tickets.

A report by CBC News has alleged that Ticketmaster is recruiting professional scalpers who cheat its own system to help the company squeeze more money out of fans.

A CBS/Toronto Star investigation revealed the secret scalper program.

Ticketmaster representative: "In sales".

"We do not condone the statements made by the employee as the conduct described clearly violates our terms of service", read a Ticketmaster statement published in Variety magazine.

Ticketmaster's terms of use prohibit customers from buying "a number of tickets for an event that exceeds the stated limit for that event". "In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the objective of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale", the statement read.

"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", said another.

In an explosive plot twist of M. Night Shayamalan proportions, it turns out Ticketmaster may have been secretly working with scalpers to rip us off this whole time!

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During the March video presentation, the CBC reports, a Ticketmaster employee said that 100 scalpers across North America were using TradeDesk to each sell somewhere between a few thousand and several million tickets per year - "I think our biggest broker right now has probably grabbed around five million", the representative is reported to have said. "It doesn't matter to me", said the Trade Desk salesperson.

It repeatedly denied interview requests to CBC and Star journalists, however.

The investigative reporters have also accused Ticketmaster of timing releases to offer the illusion demand is higher than it is, thus driving fans to more expensive options, only to release tickets at a reduced price later.

"We're not trying to build a better mousetrap".

"What we discovered is they are selling something called 'Tradedesk, ' which is an online system", Seglins said.

The Star/CBC report has ignited fierce public reaction in Canada and the United States, where it has been picked up by Rolling Stone Magazine and CBS News.

Journalists from both publications posed as professional scalpers at the Ticket Summit 2018 in Las Vegas this July, with hidden cameras.

Ticketmaster is owned by Live Nation - the California-based company did not respond to NPR's email for comment on the report. Under this scenario, Ticketmaster successfully inflates ticket prices and successfully profits not once, but twice - first on the fees of the initial ticket sale to scalpers, then on the fees captured during the pricier resale transactions made on TradeDesk. The software is not listed anywhere on Ticketmaster's website.

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