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The Real Deal: Concert Ticket Craziness
ALBANY - There are some big musical acts coming to the area over the few months like Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake. The concerts all sold out within a matter of minutes, leaving a lot of fans hoping to go, more than disappointed. But now, tickets are popping up all over the Internet for six or seven times the face-value of the seats and that disappointment has turned to anger.
"My husband went to the TU Center and I went on our two computers back and forth we could not get a single tickets," says Patsy Fischer who is a big local supporter of the arts. "I think we saw about 10 shows last year and we're members at the Palace Theater and at Capital Rep," she adds. She was excited to add to the list but so far she hasn't had good luck, she got shut out of McCartney tickets which was a huge disappoint not only to her and her husband, " I wanted to get my daughter and son-in-law who is active military tickets and give him a real treat because he's been overseas a-lot," Fischer says. Even when she was able to get seats for the Bruce Springsteen concert, she says they were in the nose-bleed section, "My husband was the 4th person in line at the TU Center when they went on sale and we got tickets in a really bad section and he was the 4th person able to buy tickets!"
The General Manager of the Times Union Center, Bob Belber refused a request from CBS6 for an on-camera interview but told us over the phone that the performer's management is ultimately responsible for deciding how many tickets the venue gets and at what price they will be sold, how many tickets the fan club gets, where those seats will be located and when they'll go on sale and how many seats are set aside for early promotions and/or giveaways.
Fischer might be okay with all of that if she knew the tickets were going to other local fans but not all of them are. "I did find that they were on-sale at many different resellers before they ever even went on-sale to the public, I don't know how that's possible...and they were priced anywhere from $200 to $3,540," Fischer says. Belber says ticket resellers do not get advance access to seats but it is a free-for-all the second they go on-sale to the general public. Many websites and resellers have a number of employees, experienced in getting as many seats as possible as fast as possible sitting at computers hours before they go on-sale, preparing to act. Often when tickets are placed on reselling sites in advance of the date they go on-sale to the general public, the small print promises only a "comparable seat" to what they're offering.
Here in New York, resellers must be licensed and post a $25,000 bond with the state in order to operate. They're allowed to charge face-value plus 45% if the venue is seats more than 6,000 people, face-value plus 20% if it seats less. Resellers are also allowed to tack on a "reasonable" service charge. Popular sites like StubHub don't actually buy the tickets, they're just a marketplace for individuals, businesses, ticket brokers, corporate sponsors, promoters, fan club members or contest winners to sell and their terms of agreement state that "it is the seller's responsibility to abide by the StubHub User Agreement and list tickets in accordance with all applicable local, state, federal, and international laws, statutes, and regulations."
In New York, individual sellers are allowed to sell tickets on the day of the show but you're supposed to be doing it for at or under face-value and at least 1500 feet away from the venue. Believe it or not, the rules here in New York when it comes to reselling tickets are more strict than most other states but that doesn't mean we all have to be happy about it, "I think that they're something not quite right with all this," Fischer says.
If you're hoping to secure tickets for an upcoming concert, the NYS Attorney General's Office offers this advice:
-If you are interested in a particular artist, check to see whether that artist has an official fan club. Many artists will provide their fan clubs with early access to tickets through pre-sales before tickets are released to the general public.
-Before buying a ticket from a resale website, check with the box office or official ticketing website first to see if tickets are still available at face value. You would be surprised at how often a resale ticket is purchased while the box office has not yet sold out.
-Some independent ticket resale websites look very similar to official box office and venue websites. Unsuspecting consumers purchasing tickets through these websites often do not realize that they bought resale tickets and have paid well above face value until they receive the tickets. When buying a ticket online, investigate the website first. If you are not sure whether a particular website is affiliated with a venue, call the box office.
- Most ticket resale websites do not themselves own the tickets that are sold on the sites. The websites work like eBay; thousands of ticket resellers hold tickets and list them for sale. Unlike eBay, however, most ticket resale websites do not disclose who is selling the ticket. It is therefore important to purchase tickets through a reputable website that will offer protection in case the ticket reseller fails to provide the ticket that was promised.