Last week, Ticketmaster took some major heat for an unplanned and accidental presale for tickets for Phish’s four performances at Red Rocks this summer. Fans that thought they had stumbled onto a surprise jackpot had their orders canceled and received an email from David Butler, President of Ticketmaster North America, explaining why.
In an exclusive Q&A with Hidden Track, Luke Sacks spoke with Butler, who is responsible for Ticketmaster’s primary ticketing business in the US and Canada, via phone about the cause of the error, how Ticketmaster is working to thwart scalpers, what band he has seen nearly 50 times himself and more.
LUKE SACKS: Let’s start with the incident last week when tickets for the Red Rocks shows went on sale early. Speculation among fans has ranged from a simple computer glitch to Ticketmaster secretly activating that link so scalpers could get in and do their thing. From your perspective, can you walk me through what happened?
DAVID BUTLER: Absolutely. It was fundamentally human error by an employee of Ticketmaster in our Rocky Mountain region. An experienced person, who has been with us for years, accidentally, in releasing the show to be visible on the website that the on-sale was coming, accidentally made it appear to be on sale against the desires of the promoter or the artist. It was really just human error. She was trying to set it up so the show would be apparent with the future on-sale date so the fans would know it was coming. She just goofed.
LS: So that happened, all these orders were filled and eventually the decision was made to cancel these orders. Who made the decision to cancel the orders and subsequently to send out the $50 credit? Were those solely Ticketmaster decisions? Was the band or their management involved?
DB: To be clear, the mistake was totally ours at Ticketmaster and that’s why we sent out the gift certificates. Our policy is, if there is ever an error and the event goes on sale prior to the on-sale date, even if its on our website, that we will invalidate all the orders and if any money is taken we will refund it because we have to protect the integrity of the artist and the promoter that the show goes on sale as announced to the fans. So that’s exactly what we did.
READ ON for more of our exclusive interview with David Butler…