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Radiohead ticket sales cause headaches for fans, Ticketmaster

By Alfred Branch Jr.

An unknown number of fans experienced problems when they tried to buy tickets to Radiohead's two New York shows this week, which led Ticketmaster to try to use the snafu to tout its restrictive paperless ticketing system.

In a statement released to the Huffington Post, Ticketmaster said high demand for tickets contributed to the problems fans experienced Monday, September 26, but that a paperless ticketing system could have helped to alleviate the trouble. Ticketmaster also blamed "scalpers" for allegedly purchasing an undisclosed number of tickets, even though Radiohead placed a two-ticket limit on sales and is requiring that buyers show identification at Will Call to collect their tickets.

Both shows sold out quickly, and the Wall Street Journal and other publications reported that fans complained of long online delays to obtain tickets. Some fans also complained of seeing tickets for the shows in their Ticketmaster.com shopping carts, only to have the site reject their order moments later.

"There was tremendous demand for Radiohead’s New York shows and in comparison, there were a relatively small number of tickets available," Ticketmaster spokesperson Jacqueline Peterson wrote. The Roseland Ballroom, where the band will perform, has a standing-room capacity of 3,200. "This is an example of where paperless ticketing — currently restricted in New York — could have created a great fan experience and ensured that all of the available tickets were purchased by real fans instead of some being scooped up by scalpers."

According to ticket search engine FanSnap.com, tickets to the September 28 and 29 shows have turned up on secondary ticket market Web sites with asking prices in excess of $900 apiece as of today, September 27. TicketsNow, which is owned by Ticketmaster's parent company Live Nation, reportedly listed tickets for the shows, but did not have any listed today. StubHub, the nation's leading ticket resale marketplace, also did not have any available tickets.

Ticketmaster did not return a message seeking comment, and did not disclose what percentage of tickets the company believes were purchased by scalpers. In addition, the company did not elaborate on how its paperless ticketing system might have helped the situation.

Under New York law, paperless ticketing systems must allow for the easy transfer or resale of tickets, which Ticketmaster's restrictive paperless ticket system does not. Ticketmaster's closed-loop paperless ticketing system requires the purchaser to swipe the credit card they used to buy the tickets when they arrive at the gate, and any resale or transfer of tickets must occur on Ticketmaster's proprietary exchange.

Ticketmaster touts its system as safe and secure, but opponents, such as the Fan Freedom Project, say that the system gives Ticketmaster control over tickets that they bought and own.

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