World-Leading Ticketing Website May Be Employing Its Own Scalpers

Ever get pissed off when you checkout to pay for a Ticketmaster ticket for $45 and it ends up costing $66.50 “with fees?”. What if you also knew that on top of those exorbitant fees, Ticketmaster was pulling in another side profit? Following an undercover operation, details are emerging of the ticket conglomerate employing the scalpers of their very own tickets.

Journalists from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation went undercover to discover Ticketmaster’s dirty little secret. On top of numerous moral breaches, this is in direct violation of their own policy. It also violates the 2016 BOTS Act which protects the illegal mass-purchasing of tickets.

This week, two U.S. Senators, Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal, have stepped in and are demanding answers and accountability. As two proponents of the BOTS Act, they request that Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino provide immediate answers to the claims. Their primary concern is over the shady dealings with TradeDesk, their professional resale program. Live Nation is the parent company of Ticketmaster.

“Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention.”

Live Nation has until October 5th to submit their responses. The full letter can be read in it’s entirety below.

Mr. Michael Rapino
President and Chief Executive Officer
Live Nation Entertainment
9348 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210

Dear Mr. Rapino:

CBC News reported on September 19th that Ticketmaster, the live-event ticket sales and distribution subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment, recruits and employs professional ticket scalpers to circumvent the ticket purchasing limits on its own primary ticket sales platform in an effort to expand its ticket resale division.[1] According to the article, Ticketmaster utilizes a professional reseller program called TradeDesk, which provides a web-based inventory for scalpers to effectively purchase large quantities of tickets from Ticketmaster’s primary ticket sales website and resell these tickets for higher prices on its own resale platform. Citing examples of TradeDesk users moving up to several million tickets per year, the allegations of the harms to consumers made in this piece are serious and deserve immediate attention.

Given our ongoing interest in protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive practices, we seek clarification on the use of this program. The enacted Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016 prohibits the “circumvention of a security measure, access control system, or other technological control or measure on an Internet website or online service that is used by the ticket issuer to enforce posted event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of posted online ticket purchasing order rule.”[2] Please provide responses to the following questions:

  1. Describe the event ticket purchasing limits that Ticketmaster currently employs for sales on its primary ticket sales platform. Additionally, how does the company identify computer programs used to circumvent these purchasing limits?
  2. Do Ticketmaster’s ticket purchasing limits and associated detection practices apply to users of its online program, TradeDesk? If not, please explain.
  3. What are the specific rules and processes of compliance for participating TradeDesk users as it relates to ticket purchasing limits and other relevant consumer protection priorities? Please share any documents and guidance materials that are provided to TradeDesk users.
  4. What role does Ticketmaster’s Professional Reseller Handbook play in deterring its resellers from engaging in illegal ticket purchasing activities?

Please provide your written response as soon as possible, but no later than 5 p.m. on October 5, 2018. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.