Some Edmonton music fans are angry that they couldn’t buy tickets to Pink’s concert at Rexall Place on Oct. 23, despite their best efforts.
Dennis Amico said he was first in line at the Ticketmaster kiosk in Kingsway Mall after arriving just after 5 a.m. on Saturday.
But as soon as sales started five hours later, Amico was told the show was sold out. He was frustrated to later find tickets on offer at much higher prices on resale websites.
"I just don’t think it’s fair, this internet stuff is just not fair at all," he said. "I believe that if you’re a fan and you come out and line up … you should be able to get tickets."
Josh Baron is the co-author of a book on the concert ticketing industry.
Baron said that the supply of tickets available for general sale is lower than fans realize because a number of them have already been allocated for presale by artist fan clubs and credit card companies.
"Often times now, when a show does go on sale, less than 50 per cent of the venue is actually available on the general on-sale," Baron said.
Scalpers suing software to snag tickets
Ticketmaster spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said it is difficult to say exactly how long it took for the show to sell out.
She said one of the reasons that large shows sell out so quickly is that scalpers use software to buy huge numbers of tickets, with the aim of turning around and selling them for inflated prices on ticket resale sites.
It's a problem that she said the company does its best to stop.
"We invest millions of dollars to block bots in the back end of the system … it’s a huge problem to solve, because scalpers make so much money," she said.
Peterson said the company uses CAPTCHAs, tests designed to tell human buyers apart from ticket-buying bots. It also manually goes through orders and cancels those placed by scalpers and bots. However, she said it doesn't stop scalpers completely.
Last year,Ticketmaster was ordered to pay $850,000 after a class-action lawsuit claimed that the company held back tickets and sold them on TicketsNow, a resale site it owns, in Alberta and three other provinces.
Peterson said while Ticketmaster does get a cut from tickets sold on Ticketsnow, all the tickets are from customers and not the company.
"The tickets that are bought or sold on that marketplace are neither owned by this company or are the prices set by the company."
No law against reselling tickets in Alberta
Alberta law does not prohibit the resale of tickets for higher than face value.
Service Alberta spokesman Mike Berezowsky said that section of the amusements act was repealed in 2009.
Online sales made enforcement more difficult because a reseller may not be based in Canada.
"So it’s very difficult to enforce that kind of thing when they’re in an entirely different jurisdiction," he said.
Berezowsky said that Service Alberta Minister Manmeet Bhullar has asked the department to find out what regulations are in place in other North American jurisdictions.
"What we want to do is make sure that if we are going to put in any kind of regulation for this industry, that it is effective and it actually does protect consumers," he said.
Ontario, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Manitoba have laws placing limits on resales of concert tickets.