Is This a Possible (Partial) Solution to the Ticket-Buying Bot Problem?

The furor over getting Hip tickets is still going strong with much of the ire being directed against the ticket-buying bots that elbow humans out of the way. Brian, who was stymied in an effort to buy Hip tickets on Tuesday, came up with this possible partial solution.

Hello! I was part of the disastrous Tragically Hip ticket sale today in Victoria, BC. I actually decided to try my luck old school and went down to the local ticket office at the venue.

I was the tenth person in line after the random draw. There were 4 ticket windows so the first four people in line got tickets- instant sellout less than 30 seconds after the tickets went live.

I got exceptionally lucky in that my brother managed to beat the bots at his house online so we have 2 tickets- nosebleed seats at the exact rear of the stage- but we have tickets and I feel extremely fortunate.

There were a lot of angry people in line today.

It is likely impossible to stop the bots or outlaw or ban scalping, so how about a single law that makes an awful lot of sense.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if some percentage of the seats for each show at each venue were required by law to be reserved for purchase at the venue? It does not even need to be a permanent lock until local sellout, but even a hold at the box office for 48 or 72 hours?

The real fans can head down and get their tickets with no fear of some idiot broker in Toronto, Ottawa, or New York using bots to scoop up everything within seconds.

I do not think that Ticketmaster would do it voluntarily, which is why it would likely have to be forced upon them by federal legislation.

But imagine the difference for the Tragically Hip shows if say 10% of the seats were local sale only- the ACC would have had two thousand seats reserved for local fans and everyone would have had a much greater chance and a lot more happy fans. Imagine knowing that if you were one of the first 500 or 1000 people at the venue you were guaranteed tickets. A step back to the old days of the 80s and 90s when scalping was a lot more difficult. Combine this with locking sales to one set of tickets per payment card/address/name and all but the most determined scalpers will vanish.

You would still see the local people buying 4 tickets to resell at inflated costs here and there but nobody getting 1000 tickets in less than 1 minute like a New York broker admitted to doing for a U2 concert.

What do you think? It seems to be a pretty common sense move to me and perhaps the easiest way to beat the bots- by going old school and taking the tickets offline where the brokers halfway across the country cannot touch them.

Thanks, and a very happy Hip fan,


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “Is This a Possible (Partial) Solution to the Ticket-Buying Bot Problem?

  • June 15, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I’ve supported this concept for a while now. Set up 1-day, box office sale a week before the online sales begin. Just like the Foo’s did with their Beat the Bots sale. I stood in line for about 3 hours to get my floor seats to the Calgary show, and didn’t hear a single complaint from anyone around me. Even after the draw moved the end of the line to the front, because everyone knew they were still going to be able to get tickets. It’s definitely something I’d like to see more of. Lets you really see who the true fans are, and you meet some awesome people in line that you may just end up sitting next to at the show.

  • June 15, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Good idea, but would have to provincial legislation, not federal. Commercial transactions/contracts are domain of the provinces. You should talk to your local MPP. A smart politician (insert joke here) will see this as a winning issue, given the Hip/Ticketmaster fiasco.

  • June 15, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Isn’t the simplest solution for all of this to scan the credit card used to purchase the tickets at the gate? Radiohead did it with success. Prince did it when he did his solo/piano show earlier this year. Unless the re-seller walks into the venue with the people he sold the tickets to, it eliminates the secondary market entirely. It adds small challenges (gifts, legit cancellations, non-CC transactions, etc…) but solves the big challenge.
    It’s so obvious and simple, it makes me think I must be missing something…. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • June 15, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      I think it’s the “small challenges” that make it too hard to pull off. Years ago, me and a few friends were all going to a concert together. The guy who bought all the tickets got really sick that morning and couldn’t make it. Was barely able to get out of bed. But he was able to give his ticket to another friend. In the c/c scan situation, the 3 of us that were still healthy wouldn’t have been able to go at all, and we would have each been out our $100 we paid for our ticket, through nobody’s fault. It’s a flaw that’s almost (tho still not quite) as bad as bots. Only instead of not getting tickets at all (but keeping our money), we’d end up paying for tickets that we then couldn’t use.

    • June 15, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      They’re doing that for these Hip shows already. It doesn’t do anything to stop anybody from reselling on Stubhub, just from reselling physical tickets. So it actually, unfortunately, adds those new small challenges while doing absolutely nothing to solve the big problem.

      On Stubhub, Ticketmaster (who owns Stubhub anyway) re-issues an entirely new/replacement ticket to the purchaser under the purchaser’s credit card, and voids the one under the seller’s credit card. So the person who bought tickets through Stubhub now needs to scan the credit card they used to buy them from Stubhub (at whatever ridiculous price the scalper gouged out of them).

  • June 15, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    You may beat the bots but not scallpers; they would return to hiring homeless people to camp out for them so they still get a load of tickets.


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