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Security The Internet Businesses

Ticketmaster Claims Hacking Over Ticket Resale Site 317

FlopEJoe writes "Ticketmaster claims that RMG Technologies is providing software to avoid security measures on their website - even to the point of utilizing bots to get large blocks of tickets. RMG says it just 'provides a specialized browser for ticket brokers.' From the New York Times article: 'The fact that tickets to popular events sell out so quickly -- and that brokers and online resellers obtain them with such velocity -- is clouding the business, many in the music industry say. It is enough, some longtime concertgoers say, to make them long for the days when all they had to do to obtain tickets was camp out overnight.'"
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Ticketmaster Claims Hacking Over Ticket Resale Site

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    They are nothing more than scalpers.

    Of course, all that is needed to fix this is for tickets to be tied to the credit card. You buy the ticket with the card,you confirm it's your card when you get there.
    • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:52PM (#20892379) Homepage Journal
      Led Zepplin held a lottery for tickets to an upcoming concert.

      They neglected to tell the winners the tickets were non-transferable.

      The promoters are telling ticketholders that if their names don't match the names on the credit cards they won't get in.

      BBC News has more [bbc.co.uk].

      "What we have here is a failure to communicate."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by alshithead ( 981606 )
        "Led Zepplin held a lottery for tickets to an upcoming concert.

        They neglected to tell the winners the tickets were non-transferable."

        I seem to remember hearing that the tickets were non-transferable when I first heard that they would be available by lottery only. That was the whole idea, cut out the scalping.
        • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:49AM (#20894079) Homepage Journal
          My economic solution, that would also ensure that scalping is minimized would be to hold a dutch auction - everybody bids what they're willing to pay, then the tickets are all sold at the highest price that ensures a sellout.

          If that doesn't work, start up with sky-high prices, then gradually drop them until a sellout is achieved - it would minimize scalping because in order to get large numbers of tickets you'd have to buy early, at the higher price.

          Though making the tickets non-transferable works at least a little bit.

          Besides, scalpers don't always make out - I've heard of them selling tickets at half the price they paid for them on the day of the show because they just can't move them.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by crosbie ( 446285 )
            See The Digital Art Auction [digitalartauction.com], which describes such an auction. It focusses upon the case of an unlimited number of seats, but can just as easily be used for a finite ticket count.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Firethorn ( 177587 )
              Hmm... That reads a lot like a dutch auction, just modified to be revenue maximizing when the material to be auctioned is unlimited.

              You could do that at least a bit with a regular dutch auction. If you see that selling 99 out of a 100 items would raise the price by a dollar each, say $20 to $21 dollars. The seller could place an extra 'bid' at $21, buying the last one, increasing the price from $2079 rather than $2000 for an extra profit of $79, plus having the item available.

              Still, when you're talking a
      • by NoPantsJim ( 1149003 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @11:23PM (#20893513) Homepage

        "What we have here is a failure to communicate."
        I believe that they really meant to say "Communication Breakdown".
    • by Broken scope ( 973885 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:52PM (#20892381) Homepage
      What if you buy tickets for a friend... or you give them to a friend because something comes up and you can't go?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by magarity ( 164372 )
      all that is needed to fix this is for tickets to be tied to the credit card
      All you need to fix this is for tickets to be sold in an auction format. If the highest bidder is a scalper then they won't be able to sell it at a higher price on the marketplace. Presto, no more scalpers. Now to only make sure the bands get the increases in ticket retail values and not TicketMaster or the record companies.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
        This only ensures that the people who end up going to the concerts are yuppies who don't even know who the band is, but just heard their name on TV, and thought it sounded cool. It really sucks that the real fans can't afford tickets.
        • by MoriaOrc ( 822758 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @10:02PM (#20892861)
          Because there's no way that someone can simultaneously have money and enjoy music...
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Firethorn ( 177587 )
            Bingo - If you can sell out concerts at $400 per ticket, why sell tickets at $100 per ticket. Sure, you get the excuse 'but legions of my fans can't afford $400'. So what? They can buy the CD/music video DVD when it comes out. If nothing else, it's an incentive for various fans to get better paying jobs, save up, etc...

            If they really want to let the people who can only scrounge up $100 attend a show, then hold more concerts. Eventually even the rich fans will run out of money for multiple concerts.

      • I always thought the reason scalpers can charge so much is the "I couldn't get tickets and will pay anything to go". People pay scalpers for the convenience, not just the admission price.
    • by DamnStupidElf ( 649844 ) <Fingolfin@linuxmail.org> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:31PM (#20892665)
      They are nothing more than scalpers.

      Damn straight! Service charge here, convenience charge there, credit card processing fee at the end... You were talking about ticketmaster, right?
    • They are nothing more than scalpers.

      Look on the bright side. It's a sold out concert! This is great for the artists. Maybe the ticket outfit should adjust prices to what the market will bear. It would be a shame if the scalpers bought a bunch of tickets that they couldn't sell.

      A good publicity campaign to not use brokers could speed up the process. A good announcement that the tickets have been sold out to scalpers. Due to popular demand, they are now having a second concert next week to meet demand a
  • Speaking of Brittany Spears concerts, It throughly amazes me how desperate people are for "culture". Any public gathering that involves alcohol, some pretension of sophistication or spirituality, and good parking is absolutely overflowing with people these days. Maybe I'm just getting old :/
  • Sell some tickets online, sell some more at the venue.
    • That still doesn't address the core problem - that there is more demand than supply. Keeping prices below market rate is bad for everyone. If prices reflected the market, then there would be no room for 3rd parties.

      On the other hand, I know absolutely nothing about the business - perhaps having shows "sold out" all the time is more important to the marketing of a band, and solving the problem of 3nd party ticket sellers is secondary.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Neoprofin ( 871029 )
        Depends on the show.

        A lot of people buy their tickets early, at face value, and would never consider paying scalper prices. A lot of other people don't bother and are willing to pay far far more. Raising the cost of tickets might force out 3rd parties, but it would, in many cases lead to fewer people buying tickets and thus less profit overall. There are probably very highly paid people working that sort of thing out.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timmarhy ( 659436 )
        the tickets don't reflect the market at all. they are artifically high due to ticket* group of companys fixing prices.

        $100 a ticket to see a band? you've got to be kidding me.

        they lost my business years ago.

        • by DAldredge ( 2353 )
          I believe it was $175.00 per ticket the last time I saw The Eagles. 11th row center. It was worth every penny. If you think they tickets are too much then don't buy the damn things.
          • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

            by cHiphead ( 17854 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:13PM (#20892539)
            You're older and have enough disposable income, the core fans typically do not for newer bands.
          • Or just go to see different bands. There's probably about 20 different venues in any major city where you can see a live band for $10 or less at least once a week. I've even seen some pretty big name bands sell tickets for way less than $175. Last concert I went to was Slayer, ant it was about $50 for a ticket on the floor. The Eagles only charge $175 a ticket because they know all their fans are old, and have a bunch of money saved up, and will pay just about anything to see them. If a band like Slaye
          • Didn't i just say i don't buy the fucking tickets anymore?
        • Re:Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sergeant Pepper ( 1098225 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:01PM (#20892449)
          Uhh... artificially high? The fact that concerts for good bands sell out so quickly shows that they're NOT artificially high.
      • by shmlco ( 594907 )
        "Keeping prices below market rate is bad for everyone."

        Yeah, I'd say that only the rich and well-to-do deserve to go to concerts.
        • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 644bd346996 ( 1012333 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:12PM (#20892537)
          Forgetting your Econ 101 class? Price ceilings only help the poor when you make sure the poor are first in line. Otherwise, they end up helping the rich just as much (and in the real world, often more so).
          • by Goaway ( 82658 )
            So lower prices do not help poor people at all, because rich people always automatically get first picks, is that what you're saying?
            • When you have to wait in line, yes. Unless you value your free time at zero, the wealthier people get the benefit.
  • by FatAlb3rt ( 533682 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:27PM (#20892149) Homepage
    Ticketmaster's been bending us over for years...now we're to feel bad for them? It's too bad TM has such a stronghold on the industry - ticket sales ain't rocket science, especially not at a convenience fee of $10+.... per ticket.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'm not a big fan of TicketMaster either, but anything to stop professional scalpers from buying up huge blocks of tickets is a good thing for the average fan.

      I do agree that their fees are overly high; on the other hand, their site does perform rather well under huge swells of traffic when popular event tickets go online. I've had much more frustrating experiences with some other online ticket sites that just buckled under the load.
      • by jandrese ( 485 ) <kensama@vt.edu> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:52PM (#20892375) Homepage Journal
        Does Ticketmaster actually do anything to stop scalpers? From what I've seen Scalpers seem to have a lot less trouble with their system than regular people. I really really hate buying tickets online from them. Lemme run down the experience:

        1. You navigate to their website past the dozens of scalper pretenders and through their horrible interface.
        2. Select your area and click go. It's not always clear where exactly the tickets are, but I guess if you do it enough you'll learn the terminology.
        3. Now you have to do their Captcha, which usually has a bunch of 1s and Os, or Is and 0s, it's a bit of a crapshoot getting it right.
        4. After a few minutes you get randomly given some seats. If you'd prefer to have one higher up but closer around a side or down the middle, well, tough. You can try to have more tickets randomly generated but they'll tend to be in the same area time and time again.
        5. Now you have to high stress part of buying the tickets. You're presented with a huge form with your name, address, etc... and told that if you can't fill all of the info in within 2 minutes then you'll lose your tickets and have to start over
        6. Do it again for the credit card info.
        7. And for the delivery part. If the site is going to crash, it will usually do it here, or the next page will just take more than a minute to load and when you finally get it the page will already be timed out.
        8. Otherwise you get the joy of spending $10 or $15 to have them email you a PDF and have you print it out on your own paper with your own ink. I'm sure glad they managed to email me for only $10.
        At least once you have the PDF (which tells you very clearly to print out the whole thing on an 8.5x11 or it won't be valid, despite the fact that 75% of the page is just ads). When you get to the venue all they care about is the barcode on the bottom.

        Every time I see the system I think I could write a website that could easily do the same thing for less than a dollar a ticket. The trick is of course that I wouldn't have the vast sums of money to buy out venues across the country to insure the monopoly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by bitingduck ( 810730 )

          Every time I see the system I think I could write a website that could easily do the same thing for less than a dollar a ticket. The trick is of course that I wouldn't have the vast sums of money to buy out venues across the country to insure the monopoly.

          brownpapertickets [brownpapertickets.com]

          I've only used them once (or maybe twice), but it worked fine. It was when a band had *very* early advance ticket sales to supporters (essentially low level patrons).

          Ticketweb [ticketweb.com] also handles a lot of small clubs in the LA area and isn't usually too expensive. It's gotten so that things are likely enough to sell out at small clubs that advance tickets are a good idea, even for a lot of local bands.

        • by Protonk ( 599901 )
          Wouldn't it be easier if TM would just charge the price you were willing to pay for the ticket? Then you wouldn't have to deal with shady intermediaries. all this is largely a result of TM's monopoly and price fixing, not of the scalpers. They have seen room for advantage (the big difference between the price and what a large # of ppl are willing to pay) and they are going to push to exploit it for the largest number of tickets possible.

          Just like there is no better way to stop piracy than through conv
    • Ticketmaster doesn't really care, its not like they get less money if a scalper buys tickets as opposed to someone who really wants to see the show. They only care because their customers get frustrated when they can't buy tickets for a show they want to see. The main beneficiaries from Tickermaster's lawsuits should be regular consumers. It does benefit them indirectly by making their customers happier, but they get paid one way or another.

      Whats interesting is that the article says this company RMG is a

    • It's not Ticketmaster that gets hurt. It is the people (other than scalpers) trying to buy tickets.
    • by kindbud ( 90044 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:15PM (#20892555) Homepage
      You do realize that the promoter for the event negotiates the service fee Ticketmaster will be allowed to collect? TM doesn't get to charge just any old fee they want without the promoter's explicit OK. If the promoter had his way, your ticket would have one figure on it, the face value, and all the fees and extras would be hidden in that single figure, and you'd not know there was anything to complain about. But state and local laws require varying degrees of itemization from place to place, and where disclosure requirements are most stringent, fans are most unhappy about ticket prices. Ignorance really is bliss sometimes.

    • by chamont ( 25273 ) *
      Exactly. It seems like the article is missing the point. Why aren't there different competing ticket agencies?

      Distribute 5000 seats equally to TM, company X, company Y, etc. The outrageous fees will be the first thing to drop. Magically, the broker-avoidance security features might actually work. If you know that outlet X "never" seems to have tickets, you won't buy tickets from that outlet for the NON-SELLOUT concerts.

      But this is all pie in the sky, of course. Even communism looked good from a bird's eye v
      • And this would work if Ticketmaster didn't abuse their monopoly on venues, promoters, and their tie in with Clear Channel.

        Ticketmaster signs exclusivity agreements with venues and promoters, and gets venues to only work with ticketmaster promoters, and promoters to only work with ticketmaster venues. So a venue can't use multiple vendors, as no promoters would work with them, as working with them would get them blackballed from all the other ticketmaster venues. Vicious cycle
    • I wanted to get a ticket to a local event recently. The only online option was TicketBastard. The ticket cost $28.50. The combination of "convenience charges" and "handling charges" came to $15, plus it was recommended to me that -- for my maximum convenience -- I print out my own ticket on my own printer, which would merely cost me another $2.50.

      In the end, I drove down to the venue box office and bought my ticket for list price. Just one of the perks of living in the city that hosts the events. People out
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:30PM (#20892191)
    Coming from the company that has, for the longest time, been ripping off customers and making a killing off unnecessary ticket processing fees which are likely a hold-over from when they were outlets in shopping malls and telephone sales. There is absolutely no reason why I should have to pay such astronomical rates to a third party in order to get tickets for a show to support bands that I want to see because they don't support the RIAA.

    If anything, these companies are just paying you back for screwing over legitimate consumers for years by screwing you over more. The TicketMaster model is dead and everyone should really do their own ticketing in order to avoid this non-sense. I am much more likely to pay a band's direct ticketing agent than TicketMaster. Hell, I'm more likely to go to a show when I have to pay anyone other than TicketMaster to get the tickets for any event I attend whether it be sports, theater, or music.
    • This has been driving me crazy for years. Ticket master is as much a ruthless business as the MPAA et al. I just bought tickets to see a show here in San Diego. The tickets are sold via Ticket Master and would have cost TWICE the face value had I bought them through them. Fortunately I knew where to buy them in person directly from the venue (not always an option or encouraged). I have no pity for a company that screws customers. Period.
    • I am much more likely to pay a band's direct ticketing agent than TicketMaster.

      What? Generally, it is the facility that handles that sort of thing, not the act. Unfortunately, many facilities have decided to hand that sort of thing over to TicketMaster. In my area, there was a competing, smaller organization that handled that sort of thing, but they fell into disfavor when their employees were abusing their ticketing authority by handing out the best tickets to their friends and such, so the biggest aren
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Not to disagree, but there are a few points to consider. First, no one is forcing anyone to purchase a ticket. One can generally go to the box office at the venue to get a ticket and save the charge. Second, there does not seem to be any evidence that anyone is ripping anyone off. Many shows get sold out, and those that don't probably have nothing to do with price. In fact, because third party resellers do so well, it indicates that prices at ticketmaster are not too high. if they were, the third part
  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:33PM (#20892213) Homepage Journal
    1) Lottery
    2) Auction
    3) Non-transferable tickets

    An auction is the most capitalistic approach. Scalpers won't bid much lower than they think they can resell the tickets for later.

    A lottery adds some fairness but only if you can limit the number of tickets per buyer and avoid the straw-buyer problem.

    Non-transferable tickets that are refundable for 100% of the purchase price will solve the scalpers-buying-up-all-the-tickets problem but they aren't too useful if your target audience is children and others who don't have ID cards.

    For popular shows, I'd go with selling non-transferable tickets, where any adult would need an ID that matched the name on the ticket and children would have to be accompanied by someone sitting nearby. If after a few days the promoters realize a given block of seats is not expected to sell out, I would lift the non-transferable restriction and let people sell their tickets on the open market. Anyone needing to return tickets could get their money back less the usual ticket-service charge.

    If you show up with a non-transferable ticket in hand that doesn't have your name on it, you are turned away. You can contact the original purchaser to beg him to get you a refund.

    I'm not sure how this would work for shows oriented to the 12-15 crowd, as these people usually come without their parents but without any ID other than a school ID.
    • Scalpers won't bid much lower than they think they can resell the tickets for later.

      Wanna bet? Scalpers who sell a few tickets at 4X the price can survive just fine with 1/2 the tickets unsold or sold at a loss in the last few minutes. They can get their 4X price if they can corner the market by eliminating the competition. As you have just seen, it is done by buying all the tickets within moments of opening. Now try to find a ticket at less than double the price...

  • by m0nkyman ( 7101 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:39PM (#20892265) Homepage Journal
    Waah. They can spend some of the money they get from ticket buyers to come up with solutions to protect their customers (the promoters that is). It's their problem to solve, and I ain't going to help them. If they can't solve it, promoters might stop using them, and I would consider it progress.
  • Captcha Problems (Score:4, Interesting)

    by astrotek ( 132325 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:44PM (#20892307) Homepage
    I'm assuming ticketmaster isn't implementing the captcha correctly. There is only 3 ways to exploit the system:

    1) enter in the captcha before the tickets go on sale, and purchase when available
    2) bypass the captcha because its not a requirement to make a purchase
    3) the captcha not complex enough to fool a computer for a few minutes

    No software should be getting around it without someone typing in the magic letters after the tickets go on sale.
  • Two years ago, authorities in Paris uncovered a ticketing scheme that had thrived for years and sluiced off more than a million euros involving the Eiffel Tower.

    As long as there is commodity demand, there will be someone short-cutting the process for their own advantage.
  • They are both worthless companies that do no add any value what so ever. Both can DIAF and the industry would be much better.
    • I've really been trying to keep the grammar Nazi hat on shelf but people keep taunting me...

      "They are both worthless companies that do no add any value what so ever. Both can DIAF and the industry would be much better."

      I'll assume the "no" instead of "not" was a typographical error. However, "what so ever" is preferred as "whatsoever". This is the first time I've seen the acronym "DIAF". I had to go look it up to find out that it means "die in a fire". I must be getting old.

      "The phrase "more better" is
  • Run a dutch auction. Highest bidders win. No fuss, no bots, nice and clean.
  • by bluelarva ( 185170 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:25PM (#20892633)
    These so called ticket brokers are actually worse than most people think. I actually had a long conversation with one of these scums. First of all, these guys don't operate small. He claimed that his operation spent over a million dollar a year just on Google AdWords advertisement campaign. That tells you the scale of his operation. He uses a network of machines with bot software to buy up as much tickets as he possibly can for sports events and concerts. The markup on those tickets are astronomical. He deals mostly with movie and sports star agents mostly to unload these tickets at shockingly high prices but those agents don't care because they are out to make their clients happy at all cost. What's sad is how he sometimes end up with bunch of unsold tickets. This creates artificial demand thus increases ticket price for everyone as well as depriving fans who want to go see these events. Whenever you see bunch of empty seats in a sold out baseball game, it's not because the fan had a change of plans or got sick. It's because these scummy ticket brokers couldn't unload them for huge profit. One of the reason why ticketmaster won't do anything about the situation is because these brokers ensure that events are sold out which works out in their favor. They don't care about actual fans getting hold of the tickets. They simply want the tickets sold.
    • And guess what?

      No matter what practices TM puts into place, the scalper-scum will continue to dominate the market?

      Why, you may ask?

      Because the scalper-scum have moles working in TicketMaster's IT department.

      Good luck finding them, guys....
    • Sounds like they are just selling tickets around the equilibrium price, while ticketmaster refuses to. Hell they even use google adwords instead of using much more annoying ads. What's not to love? And how is that 'artificial demand'? There's nothing artificial about their profit, if they can afford operations on the scale you're talking about.
  • The parent company of Ticketmaster is IACI, which also owns Ask.com, LendingTree, Match.com, the Home Shopping Network, the remnants of Excite, and some real estate companies. It's Barry Diller's company.

    The corporate history of Ticketmaster [fundinguniverse.com] is fascinating. Paul Allen owned it for a while (and, unusually, managed not to screw it up.) They've sued Microsoft over deep linking, and been sued by Pearl Jam over their monopoly.

  • by fotbr ( 855184 ) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @11:03PM (#20893381) Journal
    Concerts, sporting events, whatever. If ticketmaster is involved, I don't go.

    I just don't like being surcharged and fee'd to death. If its going to turn out to be a $300 ticket, just price the ticket at $300. Not $150 with a $50 convenience fee, a $30 internet-order fee, a $20 online-ticket-printing fee, a $10 "you paid with a visa card" fee, a $20 "processing fee", and a $20 "fee collection surcharge".
  • I always thought that Ticket Master is just the largest scalper. So now they are complaining about the smaller scalpers?
  • The US government (or the state governments if this is a state responsibility) should basically make it illegal to sell an event ticket (concert, sporting match etc) for more than what was originally paid to the event organizer/promoter/the company legally allowed to sell the tickets (so in this case it would be illegal to resell the tickets for a higher price than was paid to ticketmaster to purchase the tickets)

    Problem solved.
  • The bottom line is that ticket prices should be dictated by a free market. If the tickets aren't worth whatever additional value the secondary market (including scalpers) places on them, no one will buy them. If a ticket is worth that much to you, it shouldn't matter if you're buying it from a broker (e.g. TicketsNow) or a fan (e.g. StubHub). But I think if the secondary sellers are using technology, buyers should be using technology to keep the sellers in check (e.g. oyaka.com, ninjatickets.com).
  • by maillemaker ( 924053 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:08AM (#20898301)
    I think this is very interesting. It tells us a few things:

    1) It tells me that ticket prices are, basically, under-priced. If scalpers are buying up the tickets and selling them for 10 times the face value, then Tickemaster should be selling those tickets at ten times what they are currently selling them for.

    2) It tells me there is a lot of money in live performances. If I were a performer, I would capitalize on this by putting on 15 shows in a city instead of 5 (or however many I could continue to sell out) before moving on to the next city. While digital music is becoming worthless, clearly some live performances are skyrocketing in value.

    3) It tells me that Ticketmaster needs to work on developing technology that can limit the number of tickets that can be purchased by any given entity or individual.

You know you've been spending too much time on the computer when your friend misdates a check, and you suggest adding a "++" to fix it.