Ticketmaster Accused of Supplying Bots

Competition for the most popular concerts is incredible.  Forget about trying a few hours after their release, the big events are literally sold out in minutes.  According to a Ticketmaster memo, over ten million people attempted to buy tickets for the last Adele concert so you can imagine they don’t last long!

Indeed it has become a source of much discontent that ordinary fans find it virtually impossible to get decent tickets from the regular releases.   Many rumours suggest that most tickets are snapped up by resellers, agencies and hospitality companies using their contacts and specialist software to buy them up.  They create multiple identities by hiding their IP addresses and use computer programs to buy up loads of tickets at a time.

If you think  the use of bots, proxies and automated software is restricted to a few shady, underground individuals scalping tickets to sell off on Craigslist then you’d be very much mistaken.   If you want an example of just how pervasive the use of these techniques are then I refer you to legal dispute that surfaced in the Summer.

Now firms like Ticketmaster have always put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the ‘scalpers’ for making tickets to big events so hard to buy.   They’ve included small time operators and of course the companies who have turned using these bots into big profitable ticket brokerage businesses.  They allege that by using these bots to circumvent the various restrictions places on ticket sales means that more and more people are having to pay over the odds to buy these tickets from resale vendors.

These allegations have now reached the US courts in series of claims and counter claims between Ticketmaster and some of the reselling firms.  Some of the companies involved like Prestige Entertainment and Renaissance Ventures are accused of using ‘bots’ to circumvent the buying processes for tickets.

So What are the Ticketmaster Bots?

Well they are basically pieces of software which automate the process of buying or printing tickets from the official sites.  Whereas a normal fan would wait ready for a ticket release then try and quickly try and grab some.   A Ticket Bot would be preloaded with all the relevant information and automatically select and purchase them as soon as they’re available.  The whole process can be completed automatically, the speed is almost instantaneous. Certainly a human being even if sat at they’re computer or smartphone has no hope of directly competing.  Which is why people using this software will always be at the front of the queue, and why the ticket re-sellers always use them in order to buy up tickets for resale.

Here’s a screen from one of the popular Ticketmaster Bots.

Ticketmaster Bot

As you can see it has a fairly simple looking interface, but the power of these programs is the ability to buy up all the tickets required.  By their essence they require frequent updating, primarily to cope with the frequent changes to the buying process designed to stop software like this working.  When being used to buy multiple purchases they also need to be pre-loaded with payment methods and different residential IP address.

They’re quite expensive usually ranging a few hundred dollars depending on the specific bot.  However it’s relatively easy to recoup the costs quickly by buying a few extra tickets and reselling them at a profit.  All sorts of people use them ranging from the ordinary concert goer who wants to be guaranteed of getting the latest tickets to the aforementioned large ticket resellers who make a substantial amount reselling these on the secondary markets.  Basically they give any one using them a huge advantage over everyone else trying to buy tickets.

Claims and Counter Claims

Everyone seems to blame each other for the shortage of tickets for big events.   Much is blamed on software like this but they’re only tools.  Ticketmaster state that these programs are the sole culprit but the evidence suggests it’s actually more complicated than that.

After Ticketmaster’ subsidiary brought it’s initial successful lawsuit against two brokers last year, there has been a further development.  The have responded by bringing a series of counter claims suggesting that Ticketmaster was also developing and using their own software plus abusing it’s market position.  The claim states that Ticketmaster in many cases doesn’t even place tickets on the primary markets, but instead places them directly on the secondary market where they can be sold at a premium price.

It has been also alleged that firms like Ticketmaster actually benefit from the secondary markets.  When a ticket is sold to a reseller they get commission on the initial sale (even if purchased by a Bot) then another cut when the ticket is resold on the secondary market.   Indeed it is strongly suggested that Ticketmaster has actually supplied some automated programs to ticket resellers in order to facilitate the secondary market.

You can read the counter claim here – which covers alleged violations of numerous state and regional laws.

It is something that is often alleged in different markets like this across the world particularly for concerts and shows.  The finger of blame is always pointed at the users of the ‘Bots’ but in reality it’s only a small part of the problem.  Indeed many of the users of these Ticket Bots are relatively ordinary people buying for their friends and families.  They buy just a few and the vast majority or for their personal use.  Of course there are people who extend the scale and make decent profits out of this.  However many suggest that the proportion of tickets obtained and resold in this manner is much smaller than the direct reselling on the secondary markets or to corporate and hospitality package companies.

If this is all true you can hardly blame individuals to resorting to the same tactics in order to buy tickets at a fair price.  If it takes using a software robot to get a fair deal on concert tickets, Ticketmaster can hardly complain.  The case has not been concluded yet, but has the potential to be a public relations nightmare for the parent company Live Nation.

 

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