The Ticketmaster scam

Last Friday was the most infuriating of days. My spirit crushing experience was not work related, but it was work based

I had arrived thirty minutes earlier than usual- at 8.30am. I logged on to my computer. My credit card was in hand. I was planning to buy a concert ticket.

A band from my home town and teenage years were playing a gig in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in May. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Cranberries. This was their first gig in Ireland in many years. Interest in seeing them live promised to be intense.

Back in 1993 when I was eighteen years old I worked on a campsite in France for a period of six months. These were the days before the internet and mobile phone. Telephone call cards were the height of glamour and sophistication. Once a week I would call home to tell everyone in Limerick my news. The Irish newspaper on sale in the campsite shop was The Irish Times. It was two days old by the time it went on sale. It was the only means of staying abreast od events from the homeland (I remember the extraordinary day in June 1993 when homosexuality was decriminalised. I read about it a few days after it happened. It made my heart beat with joy. They couldn’t jail me now.)

Over the course of the summer I started noticing articles about the band The Cranberries who were becoming megastars in the US. I knew that group. They were locals at Doc’s Bar in the Granary in Limerick. They were called ‘The Cranberry Saw Us’ when I was in secondary school, and when I saw them play at the University of Limerick.  Fronted by Dolores O’Riordain, and having as a band member a schoolmate from my years in St Nessan’s school, I was shocked and awed by the news. These folk were my Limerick peers. They weren’t mean to be successful. How had this happened?

When they were offered a supporting slot for the British band Suede’s American launch tour, nobody expected them to connect with the American audience in the manner that they did. Adopted by college radio and MTV they became the biggest Irish music act since U2. There followed a decade of massive success worldwide.

Following their break they began touring again – but not in Ireland. Perhaps they preferred the relative anonymity that living here offered – particularly outside the Dublin bubble.

So the concert in May is a big deal. The Bord Gais Energy Theatre is a theatre that holds an audience of approximately 2000 people. Sizeable certainly, but arguably not big enough for a band like the Cranberries who are playing one concert in Ireland this year, and their first in many years.

Nevertheless I was poised with my credit card.

The Ticketmaster website was open. Tickets went on sale at 9am. The timer counting down the minutes until the sale started was in the left hand corner of my screen.

I was ready.

At 9am on the button, I pounced. Watching the time go from ten to zero was as if it was slow motion. I requested 2 tickets only seconds after the sale started. I was duly informed by the website that there were ‘No tickets available’ for the show I requested. I hit the ‘Try Again’ button. To no available. Like a mantra ‘No tickets available’ became the automatic response as I feverishly clicked the ‘Try again’ button. .

I emailed a friend who I know is a fan asking if  he had managed to source tickets. He had physically queued and obtained a few. He advised me to check out the Cranberrries website and the Bord Gais website.

Which  I did. They both redirected me to the Ticketmaster website.

‘No tickets available’.

I have a twitter account which I rarely use. I logged on to see if there was some unreported problem with the Ticketmaster website.

There appeared a message from MCD productions at 9.06am to state that the Cranberries concert was ‘Fully sold out’.

At 9.07am I dejectedly hit the ‘Try again’ button. What was this. Tickets were suddenly appearing  on the resale ticket website Seatwave For 400 euros.

I almost spat at the screen.

I had forgotten how the live music industry is an unregulated mafia.

LiveNation is a company that owns booking rights for pretty much every tour by a major act.

LiveNation owns Ticketmaster, the only means of purchasing seats for concerts.

Ticketmaster owns Seatwave – the ticket resale site that allows ‘fans’ to sell concert tickets they don’t want.

I have no way of confirming but my suspicions are that the gangsters who run LiveNation and Ticketmaster knew that the Cranberries gig was going to be a high demand show. So they deliberately held back tickets as they would be able to sell these at inflated rates. Hence the allegation that the Cranberries concert was ‘sold out’ by 9.05. And the ‘fact’ that by 9.07am, overpriced resale tickets were instantaneously available. As if by magic.

This scam is fully legal. Seeing as the concert industry is almost a monopoly there’s no point in crying over it.

Pretty much every band on the planet is involved in this rip off. So I can’t blame the Cranberries. I love them too much.

My tale has a happy ending The friend who had physically queued for a ticket got in touch later that weekend. He had one spare ticket and enquired if I knew of anyone who might be interested.

I almost wept with joy.

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