Undercover Investigation Reveals Ticketmaster Hires Professional Scalpers to Drive Ticket Prices

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ticketmasterIn an undercover investigation, two CBC reporters uncovered that Ticketmaster has been hiring scalpers to artificially drive up the prices of tickets.

Buying tickets to a show has always been a stressful game. One where you sit in front of your computer diligently refreshing the page as soon as the clock strikes. But no matter how fast you are, tickets will most likely be “sold out”. Ticket sites are plagued by scalpers and re-sellers who use automated programs to buy huge quantities of tickets.

But this is against Ticketmaster’s Terms of Service. There is a ticket limit, usually about 6-8, to “…discourage unfair ticket buying practices.” At least according to their purchase policy.

However, during the investigation, the reporters went to Ticket Summit 2018, a ticketing and industry convention in Las Vegas. They met with multiple Ticketmaster representatives. They were introduced to the company’s professional reseller program.

The program is called Trade Desk, it isn’t advertised anywhere on Ticketmaster’s website, and is invite-only. It allows these resellers to upload massive quantities of tickets, purchased via automated systems. From Trade Desk, they can change the price of the ticket at will based on the demand.

Another benefit of Trade Desk is that it means they can have as many accounts as they want to purchase these tickets. The resale section of the company essentially turns a blind eye to these accounts. After all, according to one of the representatives at the convention, “… You’re not going to make a living on six or eight tickets.” He told the journalists that there are some users with “well over a hundred accounts.”

What does Ticketmaster have to gain from this? Why go against their own policies? It all has to do with fees. The scalpers buy a ticket at the originally posted price and pay a fee. They resell it via Trade Desk and raise the price. This means that Ticketmaster gets to collect even more of a fee on the same ticket.

It’s actions like these that have caused some artists to resort to verified fan pre-sale codes in an attempt to get tickets into the hands of fans. But even this is not an infallible system as it is entirely possible for the professional scalpers to game this system as well.

Be careful with the tickets you’re buying and good luck. The game just keeps getting harder.

Ticketmaster has declined requests for an interview.