Monday, June 27, 2016

Does Anyone Have a Bot?

I am over 50 years old.  I have seen many changes over the years but one of the most staggering changes that I don't understand is what the hell a bot is?  All I know is that it has a huge advantage over me when I get on the phone or the internet to try to buy tickets for a concert, the theatre, a sporting event, etc.  When I was young, getting tickets for things was more a matter of do you have the money or how you would get there, not whether or not you could even get your hands on a ticket. Today, the bots are stacked against us.  The ticket sellers have screwed the pooch, so to speak.  

New Yorkers know that Billy Joel has been playing Madison Square Garden once a month for 18 months or more.  The Garden announces new dates, tickets go on sale and are immediately gone in minutes.  Seconds later they are listed on websites for inflated prices not face value.  That is 20,000 tickets per concert and tickets gone immediately.  

Hamilton, the hottest ticket in Broadway history, is also "trying" to stem the tide of price gouging and reselling by announcing that only 8 tickets per week, per week, can be sold to one credit card.  Seriously?  That's stemming nothing.  Who the hell needs to be 8 tickets per week unless you are making a career out of reselling tickets and own a bot?  They raised the cost of premium tickets to $850/ticket.  How does that stem the tide?  It just means that the resellers will charge $3200 or more a ticket!  None of these moves is helping the theatre goer.  

The ticket situation is a huge problem that I think can easily be stemmed, but the concert promoters and theatre producers don't really care as long as the tickets sell out.  Once in awhile a music group will try to help their fans by selling their concert tickets directly, which is fantastic, but that is few and far between.  

Taking out full page ads in The New York Times is meaningless now for regular ticket buyers.  Even special early ticket sales for different credit card promotions doesn't give you a leg up.  All good seats are gone instantly. So what's happening is the tickets again go to the mighty few, the 1%, the insiders.  It's angering, disheartening, and makes for a very unfair playing field, which always gets my goat.   

What can they do?  Well, one thing, concert performers should help take control of ticket sales.  They are making money on tour and could force the promoters to dismantle the bots somehow.  Theatre producers can do a lot more to keep tickets out of the hands of ticket brokers.  If you spend an afternoon at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, you can see all the brokers finagling more and more tickets.  One reader told me that the ticket brokers have multiple credit cards and keep sending people in with different cards for purchasing.  I heard from another that one person won lottery tickets 3 times for Hamilton.  That shouldn't be able to happen.  Clearly there is technology to keep track of names of winners and to lock them our for a certain period.  

Ticketmaster lost a class action suit recently and has to pay back $400 million dollars to customers that purchased tickets during a certain time period.  Well, instead of actually paying back the money, they are offering general admission tickets to concerts.  We had bought enough tickets during that time that we are due somewhere around 25 pairs of tickets to events.  My husband immediately went on line to buy tickets to concerts.  He checked NYC, laughable, nothing available.  Checked St. Louis, zero for anything.  San Francisco Bay Area, nada, rien, zilch. So WTF Ticketmaster?  You lost the lawsuit and still win?!!  We weren't looking for Barbra Streisand, by the way.  We were looking for anything that could be fun and palatable that maybe we would want to see or our kids or our friends.  There was nothing.  

The fix is in.  The whole ticket situation is a scam to the regular folk and no one wants to speak about it other than the NY State Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, and it is a huge problem.  You have to begin to take a long view.  Seriously, if people can't afford to go to concerts or the theatre or sporting events, what happens to the product down the road?  Does it go the way of the movie houses?  Think about it, people.  Looking for answers.

Sidebars:  Things that one should be DVRing for both politics and humor:  John Oliver on HBO.  He is exquisite and concise.  Samantha Bee on TBS is soaring and well worth the time.  Yes, they both lean left, so if you are on the "right," you may not enjoy as much, but you also may be able to hear things you wouldn't hear anywhere else.   -- Pride Weekend is over and though I didn't participate in person, the news  and Facebook coverage was very well done and moving.  The events all over were fully shared in photos and quotes.  The beautiful highlights of a very colorful weekend.  -- Hope you saw Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren today. Fan-fucking-tastic.  She is truly the pitbull to take on Drumpf and it's hilarious.  She is fearless and gets directly under his skin and his nails.  -- Hear that Free State of Jones, the Matthew McConaughey movie, is surprisingly excellent and another slice of little known American history. -- Finding Dory is still killing it at the box office and I still haven't been. -- The Bachelorette is tonight!  America's Got Talent tomorrow night.  -- Would love to hear any descending voices so if you have friends that wouldn't agree with me on my rants and ruminations, by all means forward to them.  -- Enjoy your week!

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