Editorial: Ticketmaster Is A Scam

Despite all that, when I clicked refresh at exactly 11 am, I still expected to score tickets no problem. I breezed through the always challenging “enter the number of tickets” scroll. I successfully read and entered in the gibberish words “chronic upon” to prove I was not a computer program. And at 11:00:04, I expected two tickets to pop up. Not necessarily good tickets, but something. Then, like a slap in the face, there was the “We couldn’t find tickets to match your request” page. WHAT? Tickets had been on sale for four seconds. No matter how popular an act, you can’t tell me it is possible to sell thousands of tickets in four seconds. People wouldn’t even have had time to enter their name, address, etc. Those of us with pre-existing Ticketmaster accounts, another key to past successes, would not be able to enter our usernames and passwords in four seconds. It all seemed very fishy to me and the anger began to rise quickly.

Ironically, four hours after the Plant/Krauss debacle, and after two days of nothing but that “There are no tickets available” screen, I magically, mysteriously and miraculously pulled up a pair in the orchestra. Row H for Van Morrison at the United Palace Theater. Four clicks and they were mine. How does that happen? Why does it happen? Sold out for days and then randomly, four good seats are mine.

I emailed ticketmaster for some answers. I asked what their logic is on the presales. I asked how they could sellout a show in four seconds. I asked how and why tickets are sold out one minute and there the next. I expect Van Morrison and Robert Plant will both be long retired before I hear back from Ticketmaster.

Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster years ago and failed. Tickets.com and Music Today’s ticketing arm were saviors for about 11 seconds until their “service fees” and other made-up sounding charges just about caught up with those of ticketmaster. It’s all very depressing.

It seems now, between the process and the cost, your best bet to get a good value on a show is to wait till day before or day of and hit up Craigslist for a discounted ticket from a desperate seller. I know a ton of people here in NYC that adopted this strategy. If you don’t mind sweating it out and putting a small bit of trust in a stranger, it’s not a bad way to go. It worked for various friends for The Police, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, The Beastie Boys and the White Stripes. All premiere concerts.

It used to be, your best shot at tickets was a dedicated effort, a few little hints and a little luck. Now, you need a gold Amex card or a presale password. Of course you could always just buy them through theTicketmaster auction. If you’ve got enough money, you can get good seats to anything. If you’re just an Average Joe, better start filling out that Amex application.

How have your ticketmaster experiences worked out lately? Leave us a note letting us know if you agree…

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40 thoughts on “Editorial: Ticketmaster Is A Scam

  1. Ticket_Bastard Reply

    right on Luke! ’bout freaking time this op/ed piece was done! I had this same talk after I couldn’t score tix for numerous shows…If it’s in NYC, I highly suggest getting Andrew Cuomo’s (ny attorney general) involved. Believe it or not, he got involved when NY Giants Fans couldn’t score tix for the superbowl…thanks HT for the exposure on this issue.

  2. Partyin' Peeps Reply

    F Ticketmaster. I can’t stand buying two $25 tickets for $80.

  3. siwook Reply

    ticketmaster is in bed with themsleves, and it’s not pretty for anyone but them

  4. Use A Ticket Broker Reply

    It’s a lost cause.. I’ve finally given up, and just use a ticket broker when I want tickets to a concert. Sure, I’m paying more, but if I keep playing with TM, I’m liable to throw my computer out the window, and that’ll probably cost more in the long run.. 🙂

  5. Andrew Reply

    Great article…you’re right about TM. Springsteen tickets at the roughly 20,000 seat United Center sold out in about 1 minute! IMPOSSIBLE. Fortunately they added a second night, but the best I could get was 300 section. My new theory for arena/amphitheatre shows is to sweat it out just as you said. A little to risky for the smaller theaters. But don’t leave the artists and/or their management out…they know about the pre-sales and AMEX Gold sh*t out there.

  6. megz Reply

    ticket “master” my ass … you nailed it luke. ticket bastard it is.

  7. Miranda Reply

    It’s complete crap! It’s the definition of monopoly in this country and I can’t believe the only band in the spotlight that’s stepped up is Pearl Jam. We need a revolution!

  8. Oliver Reply

    Ticketmaster always reopens “sold out” arena shows on the day of the performance. Granted, they are not the best seats, but I got great seats to the back right of the stage for Clapton/Winwood. Best seats I’ve ever had at an arena show and that includes the floor. Check at 10:30 or 11:00 day of. Some usually open up.

  9. coach Reply

    it’s the service and convenience fees, which sometimes amount to 35-40% of the face value of the ticket, that kills me every time. seems there should be something illegal in that formula. they achieved a monopoly and proceeded to start gouging their customers.

  10. Dan Jewell Reply

    I have never had much luck when Phish ruled my life. I changed my strategy from the computer to the box office. I scored tickets for Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond and the Police by going to the mall to be first in line. I was always fortunate enough to get tickets, but I found myself sitting behind the stage for three of those shows. Good shows despite sitting in the worst section in the venue. That’s what 1st in line will get you. The 3rd person in line for Paul McCartney, did not get tickets! Smell you later Ticketbastard!

  11. Rage Reply

    I used to be a ticket ninja, scoring great seats to any concert on sale. When we got to the venue and made our way to our seats, my friends would marvel at how good the seats were and the free beers were-a-flowin’ for yours truly. Not any more. I find myself in the same quandry…pre-sales out the wazoo, some from the artist’s mailing list, some from Music Today, some from whomever else. You;’re right, now it IS a crap shoot. Even the venues are getting in on the action wih their own “special” packages. Once again, greed killing one of the most beautiful things in the world, music.

  12. The Mad Hatter Reply

    I need to search through, but somewhere I have a Pearl Jam boot (I want to say Soldier Field ’95?) where the crowd busts out into a spontaneous “TICKET MASTER SUCKS!” chant. It’s epic. So necessary.

  13. cara Reply

    amen, brother! you obviously touched on a chord with everyone!!

  14. Ex-Ticket Broker Reply

    It seems that we’re stuck with the monopoly that is Ticketmaster. I spent five years as a ticket broker, but have since moved on and decided to share my knowledge with the masses at

  15. Bill Reply

    Why do I need to have ticketmaster keep burning holes in my wallet? I guess I like the abuse.

    There’s gotta be a very good reason why they’ve continued to succeed despite spawning pool after pool of increasingly irate customers. I think it starts with the agents who book the big name performers. They probably get a hefty kickback by arranging to sell exclusively through ticketmaster—my guess is that the performers we know and love don’t even know about it or don’t care enough to… (ugh) just disappointing.

    It disgusts me how much these same performers are venerated for donating to various good causes yet they do nothing to help respecting fans who made them rich in the first place.

    Second, they are faceless middlemen in entire scheme and their employees don’t feel the hurt when customers are unable to make their anger known. Feel free to dial up your local ticketmaster and tell them how you feel, even if you aren’t planning on buying tickets:


    *Someone* has got to get to the bottom of this. When is the government going to go after the rat bastards that get away with the big scams again? Do we have to wait for another Enron?

    As for me, I’m not going to another show sold by ticketmaster. I know the no-name shows aren’t nearly as entertaining, but f*ck—I’ve gotta have at least a little self-respect.

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  17. PapaCat Reply

    How is this for a real kicker? Some people who used presale codes from fan clubs or from citibank or similar for the Police final concert at Madison Square Garden were sold good seats with their presale codes and then had their seats changed without their consent and without notice, long after the good seats all sold out, to seats that are far far worse. Yes, that is right, TicketBastard sold MANY people seats for this concert during presales — people who had codes and scored excellent seats — and then went back and changed those seats to horrible seats in the worst tier on the far side of the arena.

    Why would they do this? Because they sold seats that were not valid for the configuration being used for the concert. And whose mistake was this? Most certainly some kind of mistake between TicketBastard, the venue, and the band. And who will suffer from it? The fans. The fans with presale codes. The dedicated fans who are fan club members. The fans who got in early and scored hot seats right away. No, they did not get upgraded to better sections. No, they did not get equivalent seats. They were shuffled off to the crappiest seats available, the ones no one would buy.

    Talk about bastards. Jesus H Christ. Bait and Switch thievery!

  18. Max Reply

    Just happened to me trying to buy Metallica tickets.
    It should be illegal.

    Isn’t that scalping, which is illegal?

    I know for certain when selling tickets on eBay you have to actually have a real item that you’re selling, then add in the tickets as a ‘gift’.

  19. Scott Reply

    Well what can I say…I think Ticketmaster is just a glorified scalping service. AC/DC is playing in Toronto Nov. 9th and I was online at 10:00:02 and got the no tickets available crap.

    AC/DC just announced another ahow in January and I again was on at 10 and this time it was worse…as God is my witness over the course of an hour 11 times it came up at various attempts with some decent floor seats BUT when I hit proceed I got an error message saying there had been a technical error processing my request please try again.

    11 frikin times!! I also have an account and go to a lot of concerts and also end up either doing the Craigslist thing or Eprey.

    I love how their “partner” Ticket’s Now had about 50 postings at 10:05 for all manner of tickets at multiples of face value and ridiculous service charges.

    Pretty sad indeed.

  20. Hip Reply

    Unbelievable! What Scott above said….A glorified scalping agency which I’m sure is backed by Mafia and other political knots and tangles that will never be untied. I’m done with the live music scene. F**K IT!

  21. Ticketmaster Sucks! Reply

    Ticketmaster has to be the biggest piece of s**t website/business in operation today. I managed to pull PHISH tickets this morning to the reunion show, but when I went to proceed with the transaction I received the error message “We’re sorry, we’re unable to process your request. Please try again”. I went back and managed to grab a single ticket, so I went to buy again, and I get the same “We’re sorry, we’re unable to process your request. Please try again”. I went back (AGAIN!) to grab tickets and they’re all sold out! But they’re available on TicketsNow for ten times face value! Ticketmaster should be ashamed. Is anyone else having this problem???

  22. Kevin Reply

    Beware of other ticket services as well. My wife bought 2 tickets to Fiddler on the Roof at the Orpheum. She thought she was buying them from “The Orpheum”. It was a different “service” that just went through TicketMaster. What she could have bought for $81.30 ended up costing $212 – these are for balcony seats in the second to the last row. She got the double whammy! BUYER BEWARE!! Don’t buy tickets from orpheum-theater.com

  23. Joel Reply

    Ticketmaster IS a scam. They have open several other companies for the “resale” of tickets, but claim its individual “professional resellers” So now, they can take tickets off their availiblity at Ticketmaster, then, sell it for at least double on TicketsNow! Don’t believe their excuses. Ticketmaster scalps their own tickets!!

  24. jpeps Reply

    Ticketmaster is the devil. Im glad to see im not the only one cause for a while i thought it was just me and my computer. But at the same time, it pisses me off to see so many people and dedicated fans that are online when they should be to get the tickets to the shows they love getting screwed everytime. I just got shut out of DMB concert at MSG in 10 seconds. F**K Ticketmaster and all there “affiliates”

  25. Cindy Eaton Reply

    Ticketmaster has really outdone themselves with scams this time around. I tried, using three computers, to get Springsteen tickets for the upcoming shows at the IZOD Center in New Jersey in May ’09. The error I received back each and every time was that their computers were down for “routine maintenance”. I tried endlessly; I did, at one point, get the screen to enter in # of tickets, and then the same error message came back. After about a half an hour of this bullcrap, I was directed to a scalping company that Ticketmaster owns. I am a dedicated Springsteen “nut” — 34 years following this band and this is the way I get treated? What a travesty that Ticketmaster is able to get away with this atrocious behavior. I ended up paying $330 a seat using Stub Hub and I’m extremely nervous about this transaction; they’ve already charged my credit card, but has informed me I won’t actually get my ticket in the mail until a day or so before the show! I’m really angry about this – really truly angry. Where do they get such huge balls??? I’m completely annoyed and I have contacted a New Jersey Congressman about this and I’ve filed complaints with Consumer Affairs, the Federal Trade Commission and with the U.S. Department of Justice. I doubt I’ll get anywhere with this, but worth a shot. I think they need to take back all the tickets and totally “redo” the process and provide all fans with a level playing ground. How dare they do this to us?

  26. Robbie Reply

    oh ticketmaster should be broken up by the government. that is like bell, they should be removed from their monopoly standing and broken into little companies.

    thankfully i despise most artists live in concert and have only gone to perhapd 5 concerts in my lifetime, and then only because we stumbled on the tickets. Blech, I would never work hard for anything I had to pay for…that’s just stupid.

    I also will not line up for food, bars etc., If I cannot get instantly what I want, it’s just not even appearing in my viewfinder.

  27. rob Reply

    I tried to get Springsteen tickets, too. However, I was shut out 1 minute after they went on sale. I was able to snag one ticket by using tickmaster charge by phone. I called the Tennesse phone number in order to purchase a ticket in NY. Hopefully, an investigation of ticketmaster and its sales practices will reveal what seems to be a bait and switch scam.

  28. Steve Washko Reply

    I purchased tix to phish on October 20th, when i called today to find out where my tickets were they informed me that my order was cancelled and refunded four days after the purchase date…to my surprise I now have no tickets to phish at Hampton and conveniently ticketmaster reps referred me to tickets now for my $1000+ tix…Phuck Scalpers, Phuck Ticketmaster

  29. Kaleah D Reply

    Today I had the pleasure, if you can call it that, to be on hold with an operator, be online, have someone in a line and my husband also on the phone line to purchase tickets, you may have guessed we really wanted to go.
    Anyway 9:59am 30 seconds before tickets go on sale the operator hung up me due to tickets not being on sale – I’m sure if she would’ve said her name the time would’ve changed. My husband gets on line with an operator 10:01 “SOLD OUT” my mom (standing in line) gets to the front 10:05 and yes sold out.Theres hope you might say I’m still online well by the time it stopped cycling for tickets you can guess it “SOLD OUT” we took the measures to day due to all the disappointments we have had in the last year trying to buy tickets for various events. I refuse to purchase my tickets from a ticket master scalper I would sooner pay the guy standing out side the venue cause wouldn’t you know I happen to live in the one place it is legal…………Go figure

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  31. Sparklydelite Reply

    I purchased a 4-day pass to Phish at Red Rocks, and paid and had it confirmed, only to have Ticketmaster cancel the tickets for me and all the other fans who bought them because they said they weren’t supposed to be selling them yet.. They were not supposed to go onsale for another week, but a friend called me and said he had just bought them online. That night I was so excited to have tickets to Phish at Red Rocks I couldbn’t sleep. My friends and I kept calling each other saying how excited we were. The next morning the boom as lowered. CANCELED As you can imagine, Phish tickets are nearly impossible to come by and the ticket site always crash and overload on the actual on-sale dates. Ticketmaster said it was a fluke and canceled 4,000 tickets from people who bought them that way. I suspect that they were supposed to be selling them only to brokers during that time, and they were pissed the actual fans found out. They sent us a cancelation email and said they would send a gift card good for ticketmaster tix in the future, but these days people want the opportunity to actually get the tickets they want more so than wanting a free gift card. The Phish shows go on sale this week to the public, but I know I won’t be able to pull another 4-day pass from ticketmaster. It is a cruel process, and the ticketmaster monopoly should be destroyed.

  32. Phil Reply

    When I went to buy Oasis tickets the day they went on sale, Ticketmaster had sold out. I went to Ticketsnow and bought the tickets at $165 each (not including service charge and $25 shipping). I got the tickets in the mail, and they had the Ticketmaster logo on them. Apparently, Ticketmaster was selling them at $50 each. What the fuck.

  33. Apryl Reply

    I was online 30 minutes before Steely Dan tix went on sale this morning at 10am. I refreshed for the last time at 10 and it allowed me to pick tickets. I was AMAZED that ALL of the “cheap” $75 tix were already SOLD OUT? How is that possible? I smell more Ticketmaster BS. Then I tried to call at 3 minutes after 10 – got through in a few minutes and they kindly offered me tickets for a total of $300. How nice of them. I also think its great that 7 people already had tickets for this 7/26 show up for sale on eBay acking astronomical prices for basically nosebleed seats at the Beacon. Ticketmaster is a severe let down growing worse as the years go on. YOU SUCK TICKETMASTER!!! Thanks for ruining my father’s day gift..

  34. Joanne Reply


    or fans from Craigslist or people at the venue night of. I save tremendously. No way would I have been able to see 3 Eddie Vedder solo shows paying full 85+ dollars per show , I paid 55 bucks from some fan.

    Another thing I’ve found helpful is to start to like less known bands. The concerts are smaller, more intimate, and everything is cheaper in general. You can usually go to the box office night of an get a ticket if you live too far to go to the box office beforehand.

  35. K Reply

    My daughter desperately waited days until 12:00 pm Saturday for tickets to go on sale for the Shawn Mendes concert in Toronto. We had all the information filled out and ready to hit the buy tickets at exactly 12:00 pm. Unfortunately the tickets were all sold out within 5 seconds of the clock striking 12:00 pm . Ticket Master is a total scam !!!! How disappointing for young teens who are so eager and excited to buy tickets and just get slapped in the face by ticket master!!! SHAME ON YOU TICKET MASTER!!!!!!

  36. dk Reply

    TicketScammers is what they should be called! The need to be investigated – how many tickets for Hamilton were available AND even Sold by TicketScammers at $195 when they opened the bookings – let’s hear from them – open their books and show us just how many $195 seats were even available for sale!!! what scammers… sick of this abuse.

    We tried to get tickets on our phone and then on computers – computers does not even come back with an answer it just says “searching……”, we tried exactly at 10am…. what liers….

    come clean TICKETSCAMMERS!

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