Many fans hoping to grab presale tickets to the Tragically Hip's farewell tour this morning found disappointment instead, with tickets selling out quickly then appearing minutes later at a massive markup on resale sites.
Demand was high for this last opportunity to see the iconic Canadian rock band, whose lead singer Gord Downie announced last week he has terminal brain cancer.
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But fans cried foul when they found no tickets available for some shows on Ticketmaster within minutes — even though tickets were already being resold on StubHub.
In Vancouver, for example, at 11 a.m. PT, all the Ticketmaster tickets for the July 24 show were gone, but nearly 100 floor seats were being offered on StubHub for between $237 and $2,799 US per ticket.
The original prices were between $116 and $166 Cdn for the same seats, according to Ticketmaster's website.
'Scalpers suck' write fans
Backlash on social media was swift, and has prompted reaction from the San Francisco-based reseller StubHub, which is owned by eBay.
"Scalpers suck," wrote fan Meg French on the band's Facebook page. "Wish I could see you one more time, but the tickets available on StubHub moments after the presale started are already too rich for our blood."
Tragically Hip presale tickets gone instantly on @Ticketmaster. Literally can't even buy 1 ticket the second it opened for Vancouver show.— @KyleHagel
Did ANYONE get Tragically Hip presale tickets? Were there like, 10 released??? This is insane. Scalpers win, fans LOSE.— @orange_pekoe
I was on Ticketmaster, fan presale code in hand, the exact SECOND the final Tragically Hip tour tickets went on sale, and it's a ZOO.— @Nicole_Cliffe
The band's management company, Eggplant Entertainment, said it was aware of the complaints, but directed further questions to Live Nation, the parent company for Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster has not responded to a request for comment from CBC News.
In a brief statement on Twitter Monday, StubHub told fans it would be making a donation to the Sunnybrook Foundation, to support brain cancer research.
The company did not directly address fan complaints, but thanked them for "reaching out" about the Tragically Hip tour.
"As a free and open marketplace, StubHub is committed to ensuring fans have access to buy and sell tickets to the events they want to see," it wrote.
In an email to CBC News, StubHub representative Shannon Kelly said, "With this type of demand, it is not unusual to see a high asking price point for tickets right away as is associated with a traditional supply and demand marketplace."
"The asking prices you see on our site now are just that — asking prices — and we often see these come down as we get farther from the on-sale days and closer to the events," the email continued.
'Fixed game,' says report
Complaints about concert ticket sales are nothing new.
In January, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called ticketing "a fixed game," after a multi-year investigation sparked by citizen complaints.
A report from his office described how some ticket brokers use specialty software — known as ticket bots — to automate the process, "perform[ing] hundreds or thousands of transactions simultaneously."
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The report cited a single broker buying 1,012 tickets within one minute to a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8, 2014.
"As a result, in the first moments after tickets to a top show go on sale, bots crowd out human purchasers and can snap up most of the good seats."
The report also noted how ticket resellers, like StubHub and TicketsNow, have an average markup of 49 per cent above face value — at times reaching 10 times the original price.
More shows announced
In a note this morning, the Tragically Hip thanked fans for their support and added four more shows to the Man Machine Poem Tour "due to overwhelming demand" for presale tickets.
The new dates are:
- July 26 in Vancouver at Rogers Arena.
- July 30 in Edmonton at Rexall Place.
- Aug. 3 in Calgary at Scotiabank Saddledome.
- Aug. 14 in Toronto at Air Canada Centre.
Presale tickets go on sale for those shows tomorrow, again at 10 a.m. local time, through the same process where fan club members receive a presale code by email.
Shut-out fans shared their laments on Twitter.
It's kind of sad that final tour tickets to the Tragically Hip, Canada's everyone band, are really just for the 1%— @kathrynlindsey
Dear folks scalping tickets for the Tragically Hip's final tour: In your quiet moments are you content? Are you proud of your contribution?— @henderstu