August 30, 2006 Sean Burns
By Christine Paluf
Fans may need to be more cautious when purchasing tickets from Live Nation and Ticketmaster, as a number of fans recently found their tickets had been sold to more than one person.
Despite releases about the secondary market and the dangers of purchasing tickets from resellers, as well as assurances that the only safe place to purchase tickets is from the venue or Ticketmaster, recent concert-goers were forced to give up the seats they purchased and move to a different area.
The problems started with a Toby Keith concert set for Aug. 24. A midnight Toby Keith CD-release sale included a pre-sale code so fans could purchase tickets before they were made available to the general public.
Eight tickets purchased with codes from the CDs in April produced some confusing results, according to a customer who wished to remain anonymous. When the ticket holders arrived at The Tweeter Center in Camden, NJ, they had no trouble getting through the gate. They proceeded to their seats, where much to their surprise, they had company.
“That never happens,” said Doug Nguyn of Live Nation’s Philadelphia office, which owns the Tweeter Center. “Well, that rarely happens. It was probably a computer glitch.”
The tickets had been double-sold by Live Nation. After one of the fans dealt with customer service for over a half-hour and missed the opening band, he was allowed to return to his original seats.
Another duo was not as lucky. After two hours dealing with customer service, and missing almost the entire show, they were moved to a new set of seats. This bouncing around happened two or three more times during the remainder of the show, ruining the small part of the concert for which they were present.
“It seems like it was human error, that someone opened the same seats for the same allocation,” said Vice-President of Communications for Live Nation, John Vlautin.
Unfortunately, the ‘excitement’ didn’t end there. A second pre-sale about a month later for the same Toby Keith concert, provided this time directly through Live Nation without Target’s involvement, produced a similar situation.
“One set of tickets was opened for the Target allocation, and one for regular,” Vlautin explained. “They were opened as two different events, so when the customer came to the doors they were read as different events as they had different event IDs, which is how they were able to get all the way to their seats.”
Though the tickets were purchased in April, the customers this time received a call only 48-hours ahead of time to let them know that their tickets had been double-sold. They were told that their replacements were secured, and if they brought their tickets to will-call, they would be exchanged for new tickets.
“There was definitely a mistake made, and it was caught, but it just wasn’t caught in enough time to notify everybody,” Vlautin said. “It was only discovered 48-hours before-hand.”
When they arrived, they still had issues with their tickets at will-call. Though they eventually were able to secure their replacement tickets, it took a phone call to a ticket manager. It took them close to a half hour’s time to get back to the concert.
“If it’s a computer thing, it could be anyone’s fault,” Nguyn said. “Whoever printed the tickets, could be Ticketmaster or our box office. With a presale it could be a different system, we have tons of different ticketing systems. Sometimes fan clubs do it, that could get mixed up.”
“It was one person’s error,” Vlautin said. “I’ve been here since March, and this is the first time I’ve heard of this happening.”
As far as why there was such a delay in the discovery of the ticket duplication, Nguyn said only that it would take re-entry of the same order into the system to produce any warning.
“If when we’re putting in a ticket order in and see the exact same ticket, there’s a ticket audit, if the same one comes up twice,” he said.
“They were probably reviewing ticket holds or doing an audit,” Vlaudin speculated.
A similar case happened at a recent Black Eyed Peas concert, this time at PNC Arts Center in New Jersey.
“As far as The Black-Eyed Peas, we’re not sure what happened,” Vlautin said. “We’re still researching that.”
These tickets were not related to any presale, however. The problem this time was that one group had purchased their tickets from Live Nation, and the other from Ticketmaster.
“Four ladies had tickets for the same seats,” wrote the Live Nation ticket purchaser, who wished to remain anonymous. “Of course, they showed up at the last minute. One was kind of nasty, questioning where and when I bought my tickets, so I just walked away and went to a security person.
“After getting two other employees, the third one moved us up a row. The only thing that was a little annoying was that they put the two teens that had been in seats 9 and 11 in what should have been our seats, the 5 and 7, so we were moved to the side,” she continued.
Though the issue this time was at a different venue, the problem is handled the same way, as Live Nation manages both arenas.
“If they go to the box office and say there were duplicate seats, the event staff would relocate them to different seats, equal to their original seats,” Nguyn said.
But for ticket holders that purchase tickets months ahead of time to secure a good seat, there remains the expectation that their early-bird efforts will be rewarded. With little choice once the concert begins, they are forced to miss a portion of what they paid good money to see, and have no guarantee that they will be able to return to their promised seat.
Leaving the determination to the promoter as to what constitutes a seat that is “equal” to the one originally purchased can leave fans with little assurance that they’ll get what they paid for.