Increased Use of Mobile-Only Tickets a Major Issue for Millions
“Why can’t it always be like this,” wondered Bob Cocroft after Ticketmaster finally provided him with physical tickets to an upcoming Cirque du Soleil show in Ontario. The solution was finally presented to him after he contacted the media, following his being stonewalled by the ticketing company until that point.
Cocroft’s issue is that he is one of the millions of people in North America who don’t own a smartphone. And the $684 he spent on five tickets to see Cirque du Soleil in June was going to be forfeit without one, as Ticketmaster had no intention of offering the option of a non-smartphone ticket.
He was told to download the tickets to his smartphone, but he doesn’t have one and now he’s not sure how his family can get into the show.
“We just can’t justify the expense of a smartphone, and had they said it was smartphone only, we may have hesitated on spending $700 dollars on five tickets. I don’t know what we are going to do at this point,” said Cocroft.
When Cocroft was trying to get answers as to how he can attend the event, Ticketmaster Fan Support told him, “I’m sorry you cannot access the tickets since you don’t have a smartphone. The available delivery method of the tickets is mobile entry only.”
“Ticketmaster sent me to Cirque du Soleil and then Cirque Du Soleil sent me back to Ticketmaster. Without a smartphone I’ve lost the ability to get these tickets,” Cocroft said.
Long a business priority of companies like Ticketmaster, mobile-only ticketing is becoming a requirement for an increasing number of live events. Beyond making it much harder for consumers to use or sell tickets they purchased without Ticketmaster’s say-so, these systems are a bonanza for data harvesting and selling to partners, a major part of their ability to sell their businesses relationships.
According to Statistics Canada, approximately 10 percent of adult Canadiens don’t own a smartphone. These numbers are heavily skewed to the elderly, and lower income individuals for whom a smartphone isn’t an option. Pew Research Center reports an even higher number in the United States, where 15% don’t own a smartphone.
Consumer advocates have argued against the continued forced use of mobile-only ticket systems, arguing that all events should have a “paper” ticket option for consumers, which is required by law in several states but not federally in the U.S. or Canada.
“Exclusively offering mobile, non-transferable tickets is another way of blocking people out with less resources. There’s a long history of individuals in power defining which consumers are valuable in the marketplace,” says Scot Esdaile, Executive Director of the United States Minority Ticketing Group (USMTG) and national board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
In the instance of Mr. Cocroft, he was given the option of receiving a paper ticket. Not directly at the point of purchase, but after the fact, when Ticketmaster was contacted by the media asking why no such option was there in the first place.
“We have worked with our Fan Support team, who has coordinated directly with Mr. Cocroft and Cirque du Soleil,” a Ticketmaster spokesperson told CTV News Toronto after they got involved with the story. “He will be able to provide his picture ID and card used for purchase to pick up their tickets. Mr. Cocroft has been advised and is pleased with the resolution.”
Hopefully, CTV News and other media organizations have a lot of spare time to take up the similar cause for millions of other potentially locked-out consumers when they’re stuck with mobile-only tickets for an upcoming event and no other option from the ticketing vendor.
Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Dave Clark