By Nicholas Varchaver
February 19, 2017

Good Morning.

If you’ve attempted in recent years to buy tickets for a popular sporting event, concert, or play, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced the simultaneous miracle and nightmare of the ticket-reselling market. Miracle because these days one can obtain seats for just about anything; and nightmare because the very existence of the aforementioned system makes it frequently impossible to buy a ticket at anything close to face value. By the time multiple middlemen have taken their cut, you’re left fuming at a bill that can be orders of magnitude greater than the face value. The most fascinating article I read this week appeared on Vice’s Motherboard site and it’s entitled “The Man Who Broke Ticketmaster.” Call it the war of the loathsome vs. the despised: In one corner, you have a ticket reseller who figured how to elude Ticketmaster’s “captcha” defenses (those little squiggles that are supposed to prevent orders from computerized bots). In the other, you have the the country’s largest seller, Ticketmaster, notorious for its noxious combination of execrable service and usurious fees.

The writer has a keen eye for both macro and micro issues and the man who ran what used to be the top reseller—he ran an outfit called Wiseguy Tickets and pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud—confesses in detail to his techniques, many of which were ingenious. The writer lays out how the reselling system works and why Ticketmaster really has no interest in clamping down on the ostensible scofflaws who are voraciously buying the products it sells. (The company vociferously denies that.) If you’ve ever wondered why, on average, only 46% of tickets to big events are made available to the public—and if the event is heavily in demand, that figure may fall as low as 10-15%—you’ll want to read this article.

 

 

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