Ticketmaster caught enlisting pro scalpers for online resales

Ticketmaster claims it’s fighting scalpers tooth and nail, but it may be aiding them in private. Exposés at CBC News and the Toronto Star have shown the company courting professional scalpers, even when it’s clear they’re using bots or otherwise violating Ticketmaster’s terms of service. The company quietly launched a secretive ticket inventory system, TradeDesk, that lets scalpers upload high volumes of tickets and quickly resell them at the price of their choice. Moreover, Ticketmaster salespeople caught on camera were adamant that they didn’t verify whether or not TradeDesk users were violating terms of service, including the use of bots — at least one rep was fully aware of the activity.

TradeDesk users also get advantages that other resellers don’t have. They get a 3 percent discount on Ticketmaster’s 7 percent selling fee, and they receive further discounts when they reach $500,000 and $1 million in sales. There’s a strong incentive to scalp tickets in bulk, in other words.

We’ve asked Ticketmaster for comment. It repeatedly denied interview requests to CBC and Star journalists, however. In a statement, the company’s Catherine Martin didn’t answer specific questions and instead defended the basic concept of ticket resales.

“As long as there is an imbalance between supply and demand in live event tickets, there will inevitably be a secondary market,” Martin said. “As the world’s leading ticketing platform, representing thousands of teams, artists and venues, we believe it is our job to offer a marketplace that provides a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in both the primary and secondary markets.”

As you might have noticed, though, these aren’t fans — they’re scalpers. And the practice appears to be unethical, especially when the UK and New York state have set out to ban ticket bots. Ticketmaster is effectively double-dipping: it’s charging commissions for the initial ticket sales knowing that it can charge the scalpers again when they put those tickets up for resale. It also directly contradicts the company’s official claims. While it publicly declares itself opposed to scalpers and bots, the evidence suggests that it’s privately encouraging those practices in order to rake in more fees.

source: Engadget.com by Jon Fingas

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