I can't stand Ticketmaster.com anymore. It's to the point where honest fans can no longer get seats for premium shows. In the past, it used to be hard work that would allow you to buy tickets for a hot act but no more. The ticket bots and scalpers have won and Ticketmaster could care less about fans. Here's my recent experience - it was bad all the way around.
I'm a huge Springsteen fan (no surprise based on some of my previous Springsteen posts). It almost always involves hard work and determination. My strategy up until recently was - multiple computer screens with multiple accounts and then work the phones. If for some reason, that didn't score me tickets, there was always ticket drops. Every decent Springsteen fan knows that Bruce holds back tickets and then releases them usually the day of the show (they could be friends/family or final tickets once the stage is done). One time for a show at Metlife Stadium, I didn't like where my seats were, so I sold my pair of tickets for whatever I could in the parking lot and then went online and bought row 1 side stage. Even way before the internet was around, I'd wait in line outside a ticketmaster location (Scott's Records or Cheap Thrills) with a friend to get my bracelet and then depending on how good my number was, I'd either use my number or my friend's number. That's how I scored row 1 at a benefits show in MSG. Sure we always thought the ticketmaster locations were skimming tickets but they were your local record store guys and everyone kind of won. Not any more because Ticketmaster let the ticket bots and big scalpers win.
Ticketmaster.com sucks now because it can't handle the volume, the ticket bots regularly defeat ticketmaster.com's technology, the technology for ticketbots is so cheap almost everyone can afford it, ticketmaster.com's website is horrible, and you can't even talk to someone anymore.
The Website is Horrible and They Know It - Ticketmaster Sucks Part 1:
So I was watching Springsteen tickets at the two MSG shows as well as the Prudential show. I even used a guy that setup a website called ticketdrones.com. It's a service he started so that when he found out about a Springsteen ticket drop, he send out a blast call to your mobile phones (more on that service in a bit).
After constantly trying and failing, using ticket drones or not, I started getting super frustrated about the status of the tickets shown for the shows. I couldn't stand it anymore and called into Ticketmaster.com and finally got a hold of a sales person. While on the call, the status on the website went from "No Tickets Available" to "Not Many Left" so I told the women and she checked and couldn't pull a ticket. When I asked her what's going on, she said "sorry but the website needs an update". Argh - why should they care about crappy status on their website? They don't.
Ticketmaster Doesn't Have Any Incentive to Fix Their Problems - Ticketmaster Sucks Part 2
Buying tickets now a days reminds me of an IPO. Quickly, in an IPO the Underwriters are in charge of "selling" the stock. They work with the company to determine an IPO price and then the Underwriters "sell" the stock at the agreed price to their clients. So by the time the stock is put on the exchange for the rest of the public to buy, the Company has made their money. The Underwriters have made their money. Then the stock goes up or down. Ticketmaster acts like the Underwriter when the tickets are sold to the public. For a hot selling item like Springsteen in the Boston to DC corridor, everyone has made their money so why do they care how good Ticketmaster's website handles the volume or how often the status is updated. They don't because Ticketmaster already made the vast majority of their money.
Ticketmaster's Bot Protection Software Doesn't Stop Bots but Stops Consumers - Ticketmaster Sucks Part 3
While trying to get Springsteen tickets especially on ticket drops after the initial sale date, I typed and selected almost every damn captcha image that Ticketmaster used. My least favorite was the "select street signs". After I did some research on ticket bot software, I realized that Ticketmaster's bot protection software did nothing except slow down real consumers. I don't understand why if I have a registered account AND have bought tickets in the past why I have to continue to be served the damn captcha screens. Why doesn't Ticketmaster view me as a legitimate consumer? Why isn't there an upfront verification process? Why doesn't Ticketmaster have software to recognize real people versus bots? You know why? They don't care as long as the tickets are sold. They put the bot software in place to make it look like they are battling bots but I think they've really just given up and don't care.
Ticketmaster has lost the battle to ticket scalpers. After scratching my head on why I couldn't get tickets this time around yet on the previous Wrecking Ball/High Hopes tour, I was able to get tickets, I googled ticketbots. You know what I found out? A desktop version of the best ticket bot software cost only $999 for one user. That's it. That takes NO EFFORT to pay that back. I didn't buy it because, well, it's illegal, but I did seriously consider it. What I also learned was that you needed to pay additional fees for a ticketbot to access Ticketmaster's mobile site.
When the first round of tickets went on sale for Springsteen, I heard from my friends that the mobile app was the way to go. So I figured, well, it costs extra for the mobile ticket bot, maybe that's why people were able to get tickets. So when round 2 was announced, I had two iPhones plus the desktop to get tickets. I got in immediately when the tickets went on sale but ended up with NOTHING. So did a lot of other people. I guess the scalpers went and upgraded their software to access the mobile app.
You Rarely Can Speak to a Live Person - Ticketmaster Sucks Part 4
With all this trouble on their website, you'd think I'd be able to speak with a live person. However, I had a horrible time. I called and called and even tried their IVR system but could never get ticket nor a real person. Finally, I get a live person but they couldn't help. Why should Ticketmaster have a staff of people to speak with if they don't care about customer service.
I think Springsteen's people should try to do something. I get that the venues they play in probably demand ticketmaster but this is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Pearl Jam has a ticket policy for fans that they administer. I get that it probably isn't perfect but perhaps it's better than what we have now with ticketmaster. Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown have membership clubs. Surely something else could be done.
Until something changes, I'll continue to try my luck. My strategy now is to just try to pull pairs of tickets. So, if I do get a pair I can then go into eBay or StubHub and supplement the tickets for that night if more than 2 people are going with me. The days of me buying a bunch of tickets and helping out friends and family are long gone. There are no other options. Ticketmaster sucks and they let the ticketbots win.