Watching Taylor Swift perform live is a dream for millions of her fans. And they go to great lengths to realize it by waiting hours in virtual ticketing queues, shelling out thousands of dollars for seats, and even standing in parking lots outside her concert venues to listen from afar.
But in some ways, “Swifties” may have turned out to be antiheroes. Many of them have become ticket resellers through ticket sites like StubHub, and that’s unleashed chaos in the form of invalid or duplicate tickets and unfulfilled orders. This is why we can’t have nice things, as Swift puts it in one of her hit songs, but in a more general sense.
“We are experiencing record-breaking demand for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, which is driving an unprecedented number of fan sellers,” StubHub told the Wall Street Journal. The company noted that 70% of Swift’s concert ticket orders on StubHub come from fan sellers rather than ticket brokers, which is double the norm for other live acts. Moreover, about 63% of the Eras Tour orders causing troubles are those sold by inexperienced fan sellers, the Journal reported.
Swift’s long-awaited tour—her first in five years—was a blockbuster from the get-go, when presale tickets went live via ticket seller Ticketmaster in November. At the time, “extraordinarily high demand” caused glitches, ultimately leading to Ticketmaster canceling general ticket sales. Even after the initial outrage among fans was quelled, the appetite for tickets among Swifties remained high. Concert tickets were selling at exorbitant prices—some as high as $45,000.
We have a seller with a SINGLE (1) VIP Floor Ticket ($900) for Metlife 5/28! If this sounds like a ticket you’d be interested reply to this tweet with why you’d like to go 🏼— Eras Tour Resell (@ErasTourResell) May 25, 2023
This time, the deluge of Swift fans managing resale of tickets for the Eras Tour created new hurdles for services including StubHub. Many fans, who are trying ticket reselling for the first time, are not communicating promptly with StubHub about transferring their tickets to buyers, leading the company to prompt buyers to look for new tickets on the platform. Resellers are also listing tickets on multiple platforms and failing to take down postings after the tickets are sold, adding to the confusion on StubHub’s end, the ticketing platform told the Journal.
For StubHub, the confusion has forced it to pay thousands of dollars in refunds to fans who lost their seats. In other cases, the company has had to pay the difference in price for the newly secured tickets that fans caught in the tumult end up buying. To manage the glut of fan resellers, StubHub has implemented deadlines for sellers to deliver tickets to buyers and is now making sure it calls sellers who don’t confirm ticket transfers on time, according to the Journal. The company is also helping buyers look for replacement tickets when applicable.
StubHub did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment; nor did other resale platforms including Vivid Seats and SeatGeek.
In its previous presale ticketing fiasco involving Swift, Ticketmaster said its system was overwhelmed by bots that inundated its servers where nearly 3.5 million fans had already registered. The company, widely used to purchase sports, Broadway shows, and concert tickets, said it experienced unprecedented demand for Swift’s Eras Tour tickets, and that its Verified Fans system, which gives fans invite codes to buy tickets, had worked well in the past for other concert tour ticket sales. Following the initial cancellation of general sale tickets for Swift, Ticketmaster tried again and eventually sold tickets to some of its registered fans, according to the Journal.
Ticketmaster, which controls about 70% of the primary ticketing and live event venues market, told the Journal that it didn’t offer resale tickets for the Eras Tour. Of the tickets it sold, Ticketmaster told Fortune that only 5% of them landed in the secondary market owing to the Verified Fans system, compared to 20–30% in the case of unverified counterparts. But the disappointment among fans following the failed presale attempt left many customers on edge for subsequent concert ticket sales, including for Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour that began earlier this month.
After the meltdown, Tennessee’s attorney general said in November he would investigate Ticketmaster, and top ticketing executives were called in to testify before the Senate in January amid complaints that Ticketmaster is a monopoly.
In November, Swift expressed her frustration about the ticketing chaos on social media.
“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”