Arts & Life

Wading through a sea of scalpers: How I scored tickets to Paul McCartney

So what happens when a Beatle plays only two shows in Canada – one in Vancouver and the other in Edmonton? Pandemonium breaks loose on the day the tickets go on sale. I experienced this pandemonium first hand.

My parents are big fans of The Beatles (like everyone else with two ears and a heart) and they desperately wanted to score tickets to the big show. Having been screwed over a few times in the past because of those elusive pre-sales on Ticketmaster, I had done some research into how I could take part in them. Where does one find the mysterious password to enable the purchase of tickets during a pre-sale? Well, I figured it out and gave my Mom the inside scoop. We could purchase tickets during the pre-sale with the password ‘soundcheck.’

Thursday morning rolled around and by 9:50 we were all set up to attempt the acquisition of these much sought after tickets. I was in Calgary on my laptop and my sister Sheila, Mom and Dad were in Edmonton on their computers. A couple of cell phones connected us so that we could shout out when we managed to get through. At 10 am, the tickets went up for sale. I could hear Sheila frantically typing in security codes at the same time I was. She managed to get through on the first go, but my security code wouldn’t work. A second try, but still no luck. Finally, after five failed security code tests (I hate those, by the way) I got through. But – no tickets. Meanwhile I could hear Sheila yelling that she’d found two tickets. Bingo. Buy those bad boys. My Mom and Dad were also having no luck (but they’ll be going with the two tickets Sheila snagged). Finally, just when I thought I’d lost the race, I managed to snag one lonely ticket.

I hopped on Twitter to see what people were saying. Many sad tweets were from those who had been unable to get through. Some were ecstatic, in disbelief that they’ll actually get to see a real live Beatle perform. And then I saw some tweets that I had been dreading. We all know the tale of the despicable scalper – those who buy tickets to big concerts just to turn around and sell them for an exorbitant price on websites like Kijiji and StubHub. Well, ten minutes after the pre-sale was sold out, I found tickets (around the same section as the ones my sister scored) being sold for $500.00. It’s a $95.00 ticket. I know this isn’t a new thing, but every time I see it happening it makes me angry. It is so greedy and rude to snap up tickets just to make a profit. As for my one ticket, I’ll either use it myself or sell it to one of my Dad’s friends for face value.

It turns out that the demand for Paul McCartney was so great that they have added a second show. When those tickets go on sale I hope that the fans that genuinely want to see him will get the tickets at a fair price, during the allotted on-sale time. There’s something murky going on in the ticket-selling industry. The fact that over 1,500 tickets are currently on sale on StubHub for much more than the asking price leads me to believe that something is deeply broken in Ticketmaster’s system. Proof of this  lies in the fact that shortly after my experience (after I’d Tweeted about it to the world) CTV Edmonton contacted me about my story. They were looking for people who had either scored tickets or who were angry about the huge price inflation through third party ticketing services.

It shouldn’t be near impossible to buy tickets to big-name acts and the experience of trying to get tickets shouldn’t be so crazy that news outlets start contacting you out of the blue.

My advice to fellow everyday people who just want to get tickets for a fair price: try doing the pre-sales (passwords can be found on Live Nation’s Facebook page) and don’t give up. You never know when someone else might get kicked off of the site, or press a wrong button and suddenly his or her tickets are available. And maybe we should just stop purchasing ridiculously priced tickets from Kijiji or StubHub. Send those sellers a message that it’s time this ticket circus came to an end.


Krista Wiebe is a freelance writer and editor based in Calgary, Alberta. Follow her on Twitter @KristaWiebe.

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