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CBC News details Ticketmaster investigation

UPDATE: Ticketmaster has categorically denied claims that it is enabling resellers to bypass typical restrictions

By Molly Long on 20 Sep 2018

The filming largely took place at a conference held at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas

The filming largely took place at a conference held at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas

image © Bernard Spragg Flickr

A joint undercover investigation by CBC News and the Toronto Star has alleged that Ticketmaster is enabling professional resellers to list and sell inventory via its purpose-built TradeDesk platform.

In July, two journalists posing as scalpers attended Ticket Summit 2018 – a convention for ticket resellers – at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. There, employees from Ticketmaster’s resale division were filmed recruiting resellers and promoting TradeDesk, which allows the bulk uploading and listing of large quantities of tickets.

The CBC story comes just weeks after Ticketmaster announced that it was closing down its European resale operations including Get Me In! and Seatwave.

CBC reports that some brokers using Ticketmaster’s software had “literally a couple hundred of accounts,” to “work around” ticket limits on shows, while activity on TradeDesk was not subject to the same policing or checks by the company’s “buyer abuse” division.

During a conference session titled “We appreciate your partnership”, CBC reports that Ticketmaster Resale director, Casey Klein, described TradeDesk as “the most powerful ticket sales tool. Ever.”

“We’re not trying to build a better mousetrap”

A similar message was supposedly delivered in March during an online video demonstration. CBC reports a Ticketmaster employee as having said: “We’ve spent millions of dollars on this tool. The last thing we’d want to do is get brokers caught up to where they can’t sell inventory with us… We’re not trying to build a better mousetrap.”

CBC News has also published an article investigating sales for a Bruno Mars show in Toronto this weekend, which argues that Ticketmaster is incentivised to resell tickets because it collects fees on both the primary and secondary transactions.

UPDATE 21 Sept: After issuing an initial statement to the CBC News, Ticketmaster has since categorically denied the claims. The full statement is below:

“It is categorically untrue that Ticketmaster has any program in place to enable resellers to acquire large volumes of tickets at the expense of consumers. Ticketmaster’s Seller Code of Conduct specifically prohibits resellers from purchasing tickets that exceed the posted ticket limit for an event. In addition, our policy also prohibits the creation of fictitious user accounts for the purpose of circumventing ticket limit detection in order to amass tickets intended for resale.

“A recent CBC story found that an employee of Ticketmaster’s resale division acknowledged being aware of some resellers having as many as 200 TradeDesk accounts for this purpose (TradeDesk is Ticketmaster’s professional reseller product that allows resellers to validate and distribute tickets to multiple marketplaces). We do not condone the statements made by the employee as the conduct described clearly violates our terms of service.

“The company had already begun an internal review of our professional reseller accounts and employee practices to ensure that our policies are being upheld by all stakeholders. Moving forward we will be putting additional measures in place to proactively monitor for this type of inappropriate activity.”


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