Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Scalpers And Their Bots

Bots image
Want to buy a good seat at a concert? Then prepare to fight off the bots! Yes, in the battle for a great ticket, your chances of winning are growing smaller and smaller, thanks to the custom computer programs used by the big scalpers to scarf up all the good seats before you can even enter your credit card information.

According to Ticketmaster, bots are used to buy 60% or more of the best tickets available, and the company's not happy about it. The problem is, it's a grey area as to whether purchasing tickets this way is legal or not. According to an article in the New York Times, last month Ticketmaster sued 21 people in a New York court for fraud and copyright infringement related to using bots to buy tickets. Three years ago, four men from WiseGuy Tickets were indicted on conspiracy and wire fraud charges, but got off with only probation and community service.

Ticketmaster has hired a team a computer investigators to try to combat the bots, but even though they can usually identify them, they don't actually stop them from buying tickets, only slowing them down to give a regular human a chance. Still, that doesn't mean that you'll ever get a real chance to buy that great ticket anyway, since it's a common industry practice for the venue or promoter to place a hold on a block of the best seats for sponsors or industry people, or even sell them themselves for a large markup.

With ticket prices so high and with all the extra "convenience charges" tacked on, now the consumer has to suffer the indignity of not getting a chance to buy the ticket he desires as well. It's a scalpers market, and the bots are in charge.

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