8 Terrifying Facts About Online Ticket Sales

Scams, service fees, and scalpers. Oh, my. It’s due time to reclaim your rightful power. Join Fan Freedom and put tickets back in the hands of those that deserve them.

1. Big ticket sites have signed innumerable major venues and promoters to long-term, exclusive contracts.

So here’s how it works: Big Tickets approaches popular venues and big-time promoters with very sweet — and very extensive — contracts, which gives the selling service exclusive rights to all that venue’s tickets, and a teeny bite of the performers’ profits. Which means there are quite literally no other ticket-purchasing options for countless venues played by the most popular artists, teams, and entertainers in the biz. The good? That’s valuable income for many venues, big and small alike. The bad? That severely limits fans’ buying options, and paves the way for ridiculous additional fees. Speaking of…

2. Big ticket sites charge ridiculous “convenience” fees essentially because they can.

The Jetsons, courtesy Warner Bros. / Via caitlinmaryy.tumblr.com

That’s not to say they’re charging those fees just because they can — many big ticket sites’ core revenue comes from said fees, not the ticket sales themselves — but due to a lack of alternate purchasing options and all-around monopolistic business practices, ticket sites can get away with those exorbitant convenience and service charges scott free.

3. And in some unique cases, those fees could be considered scalping.

There have been several delightful cases in recent months of spurned ticket buyers who took Big Tickets to task, such as a Baltimore resident who filed a lawsuit against the inescapable service for its excessive fees, citing an anti-scalping ordinance from 1948 that bars companies from charging fees more than $0.50 on top of a ticket’s face price. A similar situation went down in Arkansas, where it was revealed that the site’s fees — in one man’s case, $49 in fees for a set of $42.75 tickets — are a direct violation of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

4. Many big name performers scalp their own tickets.

It’s true: several globally recognized performers have caught flak for, essentially, scalping their own tickets before the general public has a shot at snagging a seat. The “why” is up for debate, of course — they’re hard-working artists who just want to beat the scalpers at their own game! Or, no, wait, they’re sleazy scuzzballs trying to steal a slice of that sweet scalpin’ money! — but intentions aside, it puts fans everywhere in an incredibly unfortunate position.

5. Digital scalpers are swiping handicap-accessible seats and cheating charity benefits.

It’s a cardinal rule of doing business on the Internet: if there’s a loophole, it will be exploited by some unsavory character. Take, for instance, how the Americans with Disabilities act allows handicapped concertgoers to purchase up to three additional seats in the same row for friends. You see where this is going? Scalpers have started swiping seats intended for disabled show-goers and reselling them at crazily inflated prices, leaving no handicap-accessible seats for those that need them. And the worst part about it? It’s all legal. Feel like you need to take a shower yet?

6. Software and ‘bots regularly snatch up tickets before human fans are able to buy them.

It’s a problem that’s plagued online ticket sales since their inception: sinister ticket-snatching software, used by scalpers to seize tickets from the public to resell through brokers at puffed-up prices. Groups like RMG Technologies have been taken to court for selling such software to brokers, which then overloads big ticket sites and allows whomever’s behind the ‘bot to grab as many prime tickets as they want, wronging fan faithfuls in the process.

7. Credit card companies are in on the act, too.

It ain’t necessarily new news: big credit card companies will offer up anything under the sun if it means getting you to sign up for one of their premium pieces of plastic. Companies can claim a hefty portion of the tickets for shows that are guaranteed to sell out, and then offer those up as pre-sale bonuses to their customers. The downside? This gives scalpers a prime opportunity to sign up for dozens of disposable cards, get the tickets for themselves, and resell them on sites like StubHub at bloated prices.

8. You might not even own paperless tickets purchased online.

You might not even own the tickets you purchase. As ticket sellers place more restrictions on tickets, including limitations on fans’ right to resale, who, exactly, owns those tickets? Restricted tickets essentially do away with the physical slips we’ve been clutching in concert lines for decades now, and instead links a customer’s ticket directly to their credit card and photo ID. While big ticket sites argue that this new practice is to stump scalpers, it also puts the ticketholder in a tricky situation if they want to re-sell or give their ticket away. It doesn’t help the ticket sites’ arguments when their own resale sites claim a nice profit off the backs of fans looking to swap their tickets.

There has to be a better way.

Video available at: http://vimeo.com/26588218.

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