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In Depth: Ticket troubles

July 26, 2017 06:25 PM

This summer, hundreds of us will go to concerts, theatrical performances and sporting events. It will probably cost you more than you expected, but what can a fan do?

If you recently purchased a ticket and paid hundreds of dollars over the face value of that ticket, chances are you were ripped off.

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Eddie Knight loves directing musicals. That includes a summer program for kids at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham.

"I've been here at the workshop as a teacher for five years," he noted.

Equal to his love of directing, is his love of attending musicals.

"Broadway shows, I’d say in the mid-teens to twenties, just shows in general – hundreds," he acknowledged.

He's paid through the nose for some of them. One example, an upcoming performance of "Hello Dolly," the Tony-winning show starring Bette Midler, cost $300.

"I hit ‘pay’ and I kind of just was like, ‘Alright, I’m seeing it. It’s a lot of money,’" he recalled.

Unable to get a ticket at the box office, he turned to StubHub, but when the ticket arrived in the mail, the face value was $189, not $300.

"This is a lot for one ticket. It's definitely upcharged by a lot," he pointed out.

Andrew Goodman’s favorite artist is Billy Joel.

"His music kind of just speaks to me," explained Goodman.

Like Knight, Goodman says ticket prices have gotten out of hand.

"Starting at row three, there’s people charging $2,000 [$1,999] a ticket," he noticed.

In his quest to find affordable tickets to Billy Joel, Goodman often uses ticket sales company, Ticketmaster, but says their system for purchasing tickets is not fan-friendly.

"They make you jump through all these hoops to prove you're a human," he commiserated.

Because buying a ticket has now turned into a horserace, when tickets go on sale, you’ve got a, "10-15 minute window tops," he said.

Playing "Beat the Clock" may mean the affordable tickets are gone, while Goodman says professional ticket sellers scoop up the best ones.

"These guys get tens of, sometimes hundreds of tickets to a single event, because they have multiple accounts set up and they can get around it and it’s not enforced," explained Goodman. "Unfortunately, you know, humans can't compete with that."

He’s referring to ticket bots. Ticket bots are computer software that allows individuals to get around ticket limits -- not only scooping up hundreds of tickets at a time -- but the best tickets and selling them with deep upcharges.

WEB EXTRA: Concertgoer Andrew Goodman on frustration to buy concert tickets

Supply and demand is another reason tickets are so expensive and because it's a billion dollar industry, everyone wants a bite from the apple. That includes brokers, sponsors, fan clubs, promoters and third-party resellers. Then, there's you, the fan, who just wants a couple of tickets to a show.

"Modern day Broadway fans, it’s a reality that we kind of have to deal with," admitted Knight.

Goodman has adopted the, "If you can't beat them, join them," attitude. To deal with the problem, he's become a third-party ticket seller -- just to get tickets for him and his friends to Billy Joel concerts.

He doesn't use bots. He’s an I.T. guy, so he sits down with five browsers open and a few tricks up his sleeve.

"I figure out little tricks or ways to get in a little bit faster," he admitted.

However, State Senator Daniel Squadron says fans shouldn't have to resort to tricks. He's pushing for transparency for fans.

"Under my bill, you would know the face value of any ticket you're buying," he asserted.

WEB EXTRA: Senator Daniel Squadron on his bill for ticket transparency

That law against bots reselling gives district attorneys the power to prosecute these cases.

"$20, $30, $40 more, that’s one thing, but $100 more -- it's a little ridiculous," acknowledged Knight.

So what can you do?

  • First, if you can't get a ticket at the venue, check to see what those tickets went for -- so that if you visit a secondary site, you'll know what the ticket was selling for before you purchase one.
  • Watch where you purchase your tickets. Some third-party ticket sellers have websites that look legitimate. Sometimes, those sites sell tickets with huge upcharges or even duplicate tickets.
  • If you suspect bots are being used, contact the state attorney general's office.

When it comes to Tickemaster, NewsChannel 13 emailed them twice with questions. They said they would send answers but haven't.


More information:

Attorney General complaint form

Credits

Elaine Houston

Copyright 2017 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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