Ticket scalpers jam computers, spoiling hopes and dreams of Springsteen fans
Peggy McGlone, NJ.com
Bruce Springsteen fan Bill Dame knew something was wrong yesterday when his four computers were frozen for two hours by a "Your wait time is 15 minutes" message on the Ticketmaster website.
The Howell resident was using two desktops, an iPad and a laptop to buy tickets to Springsteen’s upcoming concerts at the Izod Center in East Rutherford.
"They were blinking, almost like there was an electric short in the house," Dame, 59, said. "After an hour and 45 minutes, my wife got an error message. Something definitely was different."
Ticketmaster said its website was attacked by scalpers using sophisticated computer programs that generated 2.5 times the traffic it had seen for any major sale during the last year.
"Big acts mean big fan interest. Unfortunately this also means that scalpers are out in full force," Ticketmaster said in a statement. "Scalpers were using sophisticated computer programs to assault our systems and secure tickets with the sole intention of selling them in the resale market."
The attack on Ticketmaster.com interfered with the sale of tickets to the April 3 and April 4 concerts at Izod and the May 2 show at the Prudential Center in Newark, part of the first leg of Springsteen’s upcoming "Wrecking Ball" tour.
"We anticipate and prepare for volume, but what we experienced today was a highly suspicious source of traffic, and there was exponentially more traffic than other similar days with major ‘onsales,’ " Ticketmaster spokeswoman Jacqueline Peterson said.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th Dist.) said consumers need to be protected from scalpers using high-speed computers.
"We’ve got to take a very, very careful look at the use of high-tech computer programs. While many fans were unable to get tickets today, many brokers were able to get their hands on good seats ... and put them up on secondary ticket sellers’ websites," said Pascrell, who will re-introduce federal legislation to improve oversight of the ticket industry.
The sophisticated programs, known as "bots," outwit online ticketing services restrictions on the number of tickets an individual can buy to a specific concert. By flooding the ticketing service at the start of the so-called onsale, the programs essentially block out consumers and buy up the inventory at lightning speed.
Minutes after yesterday’s sales began, thousands of the $98 tickets — which cost $114 once service fees were added — were listed at prices up to $6,600 on multiple secondary market websites.
"It’s so unfair and so frustrating," Marla Carleen said. "You know that these tickets are being siphoned off, somehow, some way."
Carleen, 55, of New Providence, wanted to buy tickets for herself and her three teenage daughters.
"How is it possible that in one or two minutes the venue is sold out?" Carleen asked, echoing the disbelief of many Springsteen fans. "It’s not possible unless someone is doing something with these tickets."
Springsteen acknowledged the problem on his website, brucespringsteen.net.
"We know that many of you have been having trouble getting tickets on this morning’s on-sales," the statement said. It was followed by an early explanation from Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticketing service.
The three New Jersey concerts are part of the 19-date tour that kicks off March 18 in Atlanta in support of Springsteen’s 17th studio album, "Wrecking Ball," which goes on sale March 6. Springsteen and the band then head to Europe for 32 performances through July 31.
Tickets to the April 6 and April 9 shows at Madison Square Garden also went on sale yesterday, but Peterson said the website’s issues were fixed by then. Tickets for concerts in Tampa, Fla.; Boston; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Buffalo, N.Y.; Albany, N.Y.; and Cleveland go on sale today.