Ticketmaster to Tackle Online Scalping
ALEX COHEN, host:
From NPR News, it's DAY TO DAY.
Does this sound familiar? You find out your favorite band is coming to town. You wake up really early on a weekend morning, camp out of your computer to buy ticket online, and then, bam. The show is already sold out quicker than you can say Ticketmaster.
Plenty of parents were furious last month when tickets for Disney pop star Hannah Montana sold out instantly.
Of course, tickets for her concert were still available through online resellers who offered them along with a hefty markup. Now, several states are investigating online ticket resellers for potential fraud.
Amy Scott joins us now from MARKETPLACE. Amy, what's going on?
AMY SCOTT: Well, Hannah Montana isn't the only show to sell out within minutes lately. Fans of the Police, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen know the story well. And a lot of the complaints are about Ticketmaster - the biggest seller of sports and music tickets in this country. And would-be customers say they'll go on to the Web site the minute tickets are supposed to go on sale. The show sells out almost immediately. And then moments later, various ticket resellers will be offering tickets to the same show at many times the face value. And state attorneys general in Missouri, Arkansas and Pennsylvania say they're looking into it.
COHEN: So, what are they looking into when - and who exactly are these ticket resellers?
SCOTT: Well, I spoke with Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today. He's subpoenaed five online ticket resellers for information. And they include big names like StubHub and Liquid - sorry - TicketLiquidator. McDaniel says these companies argue that all they do is match buyers and sellers. They're not the ones actually buying the tickets from Ticketmaster. But McDaniel says he's trying to find out who is and whether they're gaming the system. He says one company, for example, sells software it claims will bypass Ticketmaster's security system to allow users to buy hundreds of tickets at once.
Attorney General DUSTIN McDaniel (Arkansas): What I want to know is who are these folks that are actually penetrating Ticketmaster in the first place? If you're breaking into a commercial Web site, blocking legitimate consumers' access to that Web site, penetrating their security protocols and walking away with more than you're supposed to be able to get legitimately, that's a concern to the attorney general's office.
SCOTT: Now, McDaniel has some self-interest here. He's got a 6-year-old daughter who is apparently desperate to see Hannah Montana.
COHEN: And briefly, Amy, what does Ticketmaster have to say about all of this?
SCOTT: Well, McDaniel says Ticketmaster actually came to him first. You know, you think they'd be happy to be selling all their tickets in minutes. But apparently, they're concerned about the backlash from fans. So, Ticketmaster is actually suing a software company and several ticket brokers who allegedly used the software to get around the security system.
COHEN: Thank you so much, Amy. Amy Scott of public radio's daily business show MARKETPLACE. It's produce by American Public Media.
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