A Paperless Society? Not My Tickets

by on December 15, 2009 · 5 comments

I’ve ranted in past blog posts about the inconvenience of Ticketmaster’s paperless tickets and have even called them the highway to ticket hell (a nod to AC/DC’s paperless tickets use). I’m in a ranting mood again today, particularly when I was thinking about how they’d frustrate a Christmas gift to my parents for a play or show (my parents love attending concerts & theater).

Ticketmaster may call it innovation, but I call it frustration. You can resell your townhouse, Toyota, or textbooks online. But there’s one product, that thanks to new technology, can’t be bought and resold–”paperless tickets“.

That almost anything can be bought and resold is a benefit to consumers, particularly in tough economic times. But with paperless tickets, instead of getting a paper ticket (or an email that you print up at home) you have to present 1) the credit card used to purchase the tickets, and 2) a government-issued photo identification for admittance. Paperless tickets have been used throughout the recent Miley Cyrus tour this year. She performed at the Verizon Center last month in Washington, DC and a local news story reported on the hardship it created for many fans:

A photo ID is also required, meaning Talia Levin couldn’t just take her mom’s credit card to the concert. Her mom had to swipe her through. “If you are older, then you can go by yourself, so it’s hard to have to go with your parents,” stated Talia Levin. “I refuse to buy into any artist who does this ever again,” said Talia’s mom, Melanie Levin. “I won’t do it.”

So what if I wanted to go online to buy concert tickets for my parents as a Christmas Gift? Would I have to go down to the arena to get them in–down in Atlanta??  What’s up with that? It’s an online transaction so I should be able to go online and determine who’s got permission to pick up these tickets.

But even if Ticketmaster figures out the logistical headaches, there’s still a serious problem:  consumers can’t resell their tickets! An editorial in the LA Times does a good job of describing who really benefits from paperless tickets–two points if you guessed “Ticketmaster.” They control the primary market, and now the company wants to control the secondary market too.

This control will turn into a death grip if Ticketmaster (the largest ticket distributor) merges with LiveNation, (the largest promoter) to create one giant company. I worry about customer convenience and resale rights in a post-merger “Ticketmaster Nation”.

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