Ticketmaster is the largest primary ticket outlet and ticketing platform, dominating the majority of major entertainment events in the United States and abroad. With their near monopoly on live entertainment ticketing, Ticketmaster has developed a reputation for exorbitant fees, website errors, and lack of customer support. This has led many customers to question – can Ticketmaster tickets be trusted?
The Issues with Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster has long been criticized for a number of issues when it comes to ticketing practices and service fees. Some of the main problems customers have pointed to over the years include:
- Excessive service fees – Fees commonly add 20-30% to the base ticket price. In some cases, these fees can exceed the cost of the actual ticket.
- Website errors and crashes – During major onsales, fans frequently encounter errors, long wait times, and site crashes due to heavy traffic.
- Lack of customer service – Customers report extremely long wait times when trying to reach customer service and often unable to get issues resolved.
- Scalpers and bots – Despite efforts by Ticketmaster, scalpers and ticket bots are still able to snap up huge numbers of tickets to resell at higher prices.
- Anti-consumer policies – Ticketmaster has come under fire for policies like restricting paperless ticket transfers and not allowing full refunds in many cases.
These types of issues have led to customer distrust and the perception among many that Ticketmaster does not have fans’ best interests in mind. But are all these complaints justified when it comes to whether or not their tickets can be trusted?
The Validity of Ticketmaster Tickets
Despite frequent criticism, when it comes to the actual tickets themselves, there is little evidence that Ticketmaster tickets cannot be trusted or that they engage in fraudulent ticketing practices. Some key points:
- Tickets are authentic – While overpriced secondary tickets are an issue, there are no reports of Ticketmaster themselves selling fake or invalid tickets.
- Refunds and support for canceled/rescheduled events – Ticketmaster does reliably provide refunds in the case of event cancellations or postponements.
- Tickets work as expected – Customers are routinely able to enter events with Ticketmaster-sold tickets without issues. There are no widespread reports of valid tickets not being accepted.
- Security features help prevent fraud – Measures like paperless/mobile ticketing and identity checks make it harder for purchased tickets to be counterfeited or stolen.
Additionally, Ticketmaster maintains that many of the associated fees go towards covering the costs and overhead of operating their platform, even if that explanation does not satisfy many customers. They also point to making efforts to combat scalpers and bots, even if those efforts have had mixed results.
While customers may take issue with Ticketmaster’s prices and policies, once a ticket has been purchased through their site the ticket itself does prove to provide valid entry in nearly all cases.
Should You Trust Ticketmaster?
Whether or not Ticketmaster as a company can be deemed ‘trustworthy’ is a more complex debate. Factors to consider include:
- They largely hold up their end of the ticket purchase agreement – Customers receive a valid ticket that grants entry, indicating a baseline level of trust.
- Lack of competition has led to complacency – Their market dominance has resulted in customer service and website issues going unaddressed.
- Opaqueness over fees – Breakdown of fees is unclear, leading many to believe they are being price gouged.
- Efforts against scalping appear inadequate – Bots and resellers still obtain huge ticket blocks, pointing to insufficient anti-fraud measures.
In the end, whether to utilize Ticketmaster comes down to the individual customer’s tolerance for their well-documented issues weighed against their desire to secure tickets. Many have no choice but to go through them for major concerts and events. But problems persist in how tickets are allocated and priced in the first place – issues extending well beyond Ticketmaster alone.
Alternatives to Ticketmaster
For customers looking to avoid using Ticketmaster, several alternatives do exist:
- Buy directly from the venue box office – Most venues sell some tickets directly, avoiding Ticketmaster fees.
- Use Ticketmaster alternatives – Sites like StubHub and VividSeats resell tickets, though still with markups.
- Consider alternate events – Choosing smaller music venues, local theaters, minor league sports, etc. often have more direct-to-consumer ticketing.
- Ticket exchanges – Some teams/venues facilitate exchanges of season tickets between fans at face value prices.
However, for major touring acts and premium sporting events, Ticketmaster will likely remain the only option. Their stronghold on these coveted events does not appear in jeopardy anytime soon.
Should Ticketing Be Reformed?
The U.S. ticketing industry took in over $25 billion in 2019, showing the immense money-making potential concerts, sports, and other live entertainment events hold. With so much money on the line, many believe the Ticketmaster model prioritizes profits over fair access.
Some have called for legal reforms to ticket sales, such as:
- Capping ticket service fees
- Increasing transparency over ticket holdbacks/allocations (anti-scalping measures)
- Implementing lottery systems or other sales measures aside from first-come-first-served
- Preventing restrictions on ticket resales/transfers
Venues and tours are also examining new approaches, like dynamic and “platinum” pricing. But these have received backlash from fans as well. There are no easy solutions that please all sides.
Ticketmaster has a well-earned negative reputation when it comes to fees, website performance, customer service, and combating scalping and bots. However, once a ticket is purchased, it does provide entry to events as expected in nearly all instances.
Ultimately, Ticketmaster’s hold on the primary ticket market remains secure. But alternatives, reforms, and new ticketing models continue to be debated and explored. With live entertainment being a multi-billion dollar industry, the financial stakes remain high for fans, artists, venues, and ticketing companies alike.
Yet it is average customers that have the most to lose from an unfair ticketing process. And Ticketmaster’s market dominance coupled with lack of consumer friendliness has many questioning just how much the ticketing giant can be trusted.
|Total Ticketmaster Revenue
This table helps illustrate Ticketmaster’s continually growing dominance over ticketing each year. Their yearly revenues highlight how much money flows through their near-monopoly on major event ticket sales.
|Avg. Ticket Price
|Avg. Fees per Ticket
|New York Yankees MLB game
|Taylor Swift Concert
|Boston Celtics NBA game
This table displays how Ticketmaster service fees can commonly add over 20% to the base price of a ticket. Exact fees vary based on factors like event popularity and venue, but routinely cost $25 or more on top of each ticket.
Ticketmaster Fee Breakdown Example
|Order Processing Fee
This breakdown shows the types of fees that may be attached to an individual ticket purchase. Ticketmaster has been criticized for not being transparent enough with exactly what these various fees represent.
Customer Service Wait Times
|6 days for response
This table illustrates the extremely long wait times customers face when trying to reach Ticketmaster for support. Wait times routinely exceed 45 minutes by phone or chat, while emailed inquiries often take nearly a week to get addressed. Such delays frequently prevent issues from getting resolved in a timely manner.
Despite the various controversies and negatives surrounding Ticketmaster, they maintain an effective monopoly on the primary ticket sales market. Their Ticketing World conference touts an ability to “bring thousands of clients together to network, learn, and shape the future of live entertainment.” The company shows no signs of loosening their dominant position in ticketing anytime soon.
Many individuals and groups continue working to provide alternative ticketing options that better serve fans. Independent venues and tour promoters are also tackling the issue in hopes of a more equitable ticket buying experience. Still, Ticketmaster remains entrenched as the main outlet for major concerts, shows, and sporting events.
In an ideal world, all parties – artists, promoters, venues, ticketing companies, and most importantly fans – would be well-served by an affordable, accessible, and ethical ticketing framework. However, with current incentives and billions in revenues skewed heavily in Ticketmaster’s favor, true reform remains elusive. Most customers have little option but to reluctantly utilize their services.
Despite criticism, Ticketmaster continues selling massive numbers of tickets each year and retains its grip as the dominant force in event ticketing. While calls for change persist, fans anxiously awaiting their favorite concert or game have limited alternative but to trust that their Ticketmaster purchase will indeed provide them with entry. For all their flaws, the tickets themselves do typically work, even as lingering issues around fees, access, and fairness continue fueling mistrust of Ticketmaster as a company.