Concerns about unusual purchasing activity related to ticket bots caused the venue of an upcoming Evanescence show to take an unusual step: All orders outside a radius of 90 miles from the venue were switched to local pickup-only AFTER they were sent out.
Stephanie Viegas Dias, Director of Ticket Services for Portland5 Centers for the Arts, confirmed the decision via email this week. The show, the final stop on the group’s tour in support of its new album “Synthesis,” takes place at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on December 19th. It is the 28th show on the group’s tour, which features the group performing with full orchestras and begins in mid-October.
“[Changing of the delivery method to will-call pickup only] was necessary to slow the activity from brokers who were dominating the inventory using ticket bots,” she says. “We are committed to making sure that tickets are first in the hands of people who want to attend the event and we found an extensive interference of that process during the presale. It was determined that the bot activity was coming from the east coast. We felt the will call policy would be the most effective disincentive for the brokers to continue their activities on this show.”
The use of ticket bots – a catch-all term for computer programs that exploit flaws in ticketing systems to purchase tickets faster than humans and/or circumvent per-person limits – is illegal, both in Oregon Federal law. Their use is often blamed by fans who miss out on primary sales for their favorite artists. It is also frequently pointed to by operators of primary sales like Ticketmaster and artists when fans complain about missing out. At TicketSummit this summer, Ticketmaster VP David Marcus estimated that even if the company’s anti-bot efforts stopped almost every purchase attempt by this malicious software, it would still be possible that every ticket in the company’s massive inventory could go to bots – that’s the scale of the problem.
Portland is the only stop on Evanescence’s tour which appears to have taken such measures at this point, which Viegas Dias says affected about 200 orders. Those who choose to cancel their order and receive a refund following this policy change will be granted one, she says.
It was early in the sales process that the Portland5 team felt something was amiss. “We could tell immediately that something was wrong,” Viegas Divas says. “We notified our ticket agent (TicketsWest) and they were able to determine that ticket bots were being used. This took some time to investigate, and in the mean time, we were using every available means to keep seats available for sale.”
It would appear that the effort to keep tickets available were successful – a quick search indicated it is still possible to purchase the maximum of eight tickets for the performance through Portland5’s website. Any regular fans willing to drive more than 90 miles who were caught up in this sweep still have their tickets to head to Portland in December – no orders were canceled, just the shipping method was changed. This differs from similarly-motivated sweeps by artists like Eric Church, who saw a rash of false-positive cancellations need to be addressed for tour dates earlier this year.