Ticketmaster is under fire from multiple media outlets in the wake of reports by the CBC and the Toronto Star that outlined pro-broker programs the ticketing giant operates. The reports, which discussed the company’s resale branch and its policies, as well as indications that it turns a blind eye to client behaviors even if they violate the primary market’s terms of service, have produced a strong response.
Numerous outlets, including Rolling Stone, Yahoo Finance, NPR, and CBS have picked up the story. Reaction from commentators and social media have strongly condemned the actions that appear to be a byproduct of the company operating both as the primary box office for a huge percentage of venues – both owned by parent company Live Nation and through other exclusive ticketing contracts – and a resale platform within the same ecosystem.
Much of what was reported – that Ticketmaster operates in resale and works closely with professional ticket brokers who use their “Trade Desk” system to manage inventory – is neither secret nor particularly damning. But some issues, particularly a recording of a Ticketmaster Resale employee discussing how the secondary operation protects its clients from the prying eyes of the primary operation, even if clients are violating the primary operation’s rules, have triggered outrage.
“We don’t spend any time looking at your Ticketmaster.com account. I don’t care what you buy. It doesn’t matter to me,” the salesman told the reporters, posing as Ontario-based ticket brokers at the Ticket Summit trade show in Las Vegas this summer. “There’s total separation between Ticketmaster and our division. It’s church and state … We don’t monitor that at all.”
Another report this week covered the trends on the prices for both primary and resale tickets for a particular Bruno Mars concert in Alberta, showing the often shifting price and inventory experience on Ticketmaster’s primary and secondary system.
In a statement Thursday morning, Ticketmaster strongly denied that its resale department is enabling professional “scalping” as currently being characterized, while promising an internal review of its policies on the resale side:
“It is categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers.
“Ticketmaster’s Seller Code of Conduct specifically prohibits resellers from purchasing tickets that exceed the posted ticket limit for an event. In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the purpose of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale.
“A recent CBC story found that an employee of Ticketmaster’s resale division acknowledged being aware of some resellers having as many as 200 TradeDesk accounts for this purpose (TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s professional reseller product that allows resellers to validate and distribute tickets to multiple marketplaces). We do not condone the statements made by the employee as the conduct described clearly violates our terms of service.
“The company had already begun an internal review of our professional reseller accounts and employee practices to ensure that our policies are being upheld by all stakeholders. Moving forward we will be putting additional measures in place to proactively monitor for this type of inappropriate activity.”