Local MLA wants to battle the bots

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Local MLA wants to battle the bots

John Kurucz

The furor on social media was palpable, and the disappointment and frustration was felt from one Canadian ocean to the next. Buoyed by a need to battle the bots that are the bane of concertgoers’ existence, Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert is calling on the province for legislation to control the en masse scalping of tickets online.

Chandra Herbert made the comments Tuesday afternoon, after an Insights West poll claimed almost a third of Canadian concertgoers have struck out when trying to get tickets through primary ticket outlets such as Ticketmaster. “This certainly confirms what I’ve heard – it makes people mad,” Chandra Herbert said. “When any big-name artist is in town, people will get upset. And for good reason – people are getting gouged here through unfair practices.” Bots are computer programs used to buy tickets online. They’re then re-sold at a much higher prices through secondary ticket vendors.

 

That the Insights poll was released just days before the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour begins isn’t exactly happenstance. Mario Canseco, Insight West’s vice president of public affairs, said more than a half dozen of his employees tried to get tickets during both the pre-sale and general sales. He said by 9:03am on both days, not only were the shows sold out, but tickets were being re-sold at huge markups. “We thought it was ridiculous,” he said. “You start to wonder, is this something that’s just happening to me, or is this a qualitative experience where it’s something that is happening to everybody?”

Some of the highlights from Tuesday’s poll include: Three in 10 Canadians who attend concerts have been unable to buy tickets to the performance of their choice. 28 per cent say they attempted unsuccessfully to buy tickets through a primary ticket outlet. 17 per cent say they bought tickets through a secondary ticket seller, such as StubHub, including 25 per cent in BC. 87 per cent of respondents would support severe fines or jail time for scalpers caught using bots to buy tickets online. Perhaps most surprisingly, 32 per cent of those polled suggested a return to yesteryear: lining up outside venues or ticket outlets in a first-come, first-served system. “You have a third of people of who said, ‘Yeah, I’ll grab my lawn chair and I’ll spend 48 hours there eating food from a can just to have an equal chance to get tickets to the performance that I want to go to,’” Canseco said. “It’s like asking somebody if they want to go back to using the rotary phone. Technology has advanced so much, but now it’s being used against us.” Canseco noted that policies in Israel restrict tickets from being re-sold for above face value.

New York State is also looking at implementing punitive fines or even jail time for scalpers using bots. An admitted Hip fan who didn’t even try to get tickets because of the current system, Chandra Herbert pushed for legislation via a private member’s bill in 2009 to regulate the ticket industry. He renewed those calls earlier this spring and wants an industry panel including sellers, re-sellers, artists, fans and government to find a solution. “Let’s draft a set of guidelines that are going to work,” he said. “Some regulation is going to be required but let’s involve the folks that are in the market because there are all sorts of loopholes that people game the system with now.” The Hip plays Vancouver on Sunday, July 24 and Tuesday, July 26. Good luck trying to get tickets. –story courtesy of the Vancouver Courier – See more at: http://www.westender.com/news-issues/news/local-mla-wants-to-battle-the-bots-1.2306597#sthash.ZSYS518X.dpuf