Yesterday, Bruce Springsteen played to a packed house at Madison Square Garden, but many fans missed out on the opportunity to see the Boss. General admission seats, priced at just $155 before the show quickly sold out, were going for over $1,200 on sites like Vivid Seats.
Even before the tickets went on sale in December, StubHub and similar sites advertised tickets ranging up to $5,000, a method that is known as speculative ticket listing, where scalpers offer up seats they don’t actually possess yet. Fans desperately scouring the web for tickets in the minutes, hours, and days after the concert sold out were confronted with astronomically inflated resale prices.
However, the golden days for ticket scalpers could now be reaching its end. New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a settlement today with two unlicensed brokers who sold “thousands of tickets” to New York events; MSMSS, LLC has agreed to pay $80,000 in penalties and Extra Base Tickets will pay $65,000.
The AG’s office has also released a report detailing the results of its multi-year investigation into the consumer abuses in the ticket industry. The report calls on sites like StubHub to insure brokers act legally, without using ticket-guzzling bots, and it asks industry players to be more transparent about the number of tickets they hold. (For a given concert, 16% of tickets are typically held for industry insiders and 38% are reserved for pre-sales, the report found.) Schneiderman is also calling on the state legislature to reinstate some version of the 20-40 percent cap on ticket markups that existed until 2007, and end a ban on non-transferrable “paperless tickets,” which require a concertgoer to show the credit card used to purchase the tickets.
The most infuriating part of the report details the way brokers manage to buy a large quantity of tickets as quickly as possible in order to resell them at higher prices– namely, by using illegal software (so-called “ticket bots”) that nab a dizzying number of tickets before us commoners even have a chance to type in our credit card details.
In 2014, for instance, a single broker, using a single bot, nabbed 1,012 tickets within a minute of a U2 show at MSG going onsale, and eventually gobbled up more than 15,000 U2 tickets nationwide. (It’s safe to say the broker’s bots moved in mysterious ways.) That same year, a bot snagged 148 Coldplay tickets in the first seven rows of Beacon Theatre, amounting to 60 percent of the seats in those prime rows. One broker raked in $42 million in 2013 by deploying more than 10,000 IP addresses, as well as bots that used optical recognition software to illegally circumvent CAPCHAs. Other brokers keep multiple credit cards (one used 149 AmEx cards to make more than 38,000 purchases totaling over $12 million) and as many as 100 mobile devices to game the system during those crucial first moments of sale. High service fees that don’t really seem to serve any purpose are an additional barrier.
While a State law currently prohibits the use of bots, Schneiderman wants to impose criminal rather than civil penalties on violators and is calling for the passage of a federal anti-bot law supported by Senator Charles Schumer.
The full report can be found here:
Bruce Springsteen’s next show, which will be at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, is currently sold out on TicketMaster (tickets were priced between $68 and $150). On StubHub, tickets for the show start at $235. With prices like that, maybe we were born to run.