Breaking News
More () »

'It’s ticket scalping on steroids': Illegal ticket bots are still flourishing

“They were getting picked so fast, we would click on a seat and then it’d be taken,” Taylor Swift fan Bella Heady, 17, recalled.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The minute Taylor Swift announced her nationwide stadium concert tour, “Eras,” it promised to be the hottest ticket in all towns, even if it meant driving a couple hours to see her show in person.

On the morning of Nov. 15, the highly anticipated Ticketmaster presale went online and the system quickly became overwhelmed.

According to a statement posted on its website, Ticketmaster said there were 3.5 billion total system requests, and many included fans who didn’t have pre-sale codes as well as a “staggering number of bot attacks.”

Ticket bots in a nutshell are automated computer programs, preloaded with the required information, which are used to gobble up as many tickets as they can to later be resold on the secondary market.

“They were getting picked so fast, we would click on a seat and then it’d be taken,” Taylor Swift fan Bella Heady, 17, recalled.

Credit: WHAS-TV
The five teenagers are describing to FOCUS Investigator John Charlton what buying tickets for Taylor Swift's most recent tour was like.

She and her friends managed to get six tickets for the Friday, June 30, Cincinnati show.

They paid $380 per ticket, which turned out to be a bargain.

“Yes, it’s expensive,” Grace Wayland, 18, said. “But decently priced compared to it now.”

Similar seats are now going for triple, quadruple the price on resale sites, such as StubHub and SeatGeek.

“It’s ticket scalping on steroids,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, told FOCUS.

That’s precisely why he cosponsored the Better Online Ticket Sales or BOTS Act of 2016, which outlawed the use of ticket bots.

Credit: WHAS-TV
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, talks about ticket bots.

The Federal Trade Commission was charged with enforcing the law, but the agency has done little over the years to do that.

“The best law in the world is dead letter if it’s not enforced,” Blumenthal argued.

So he and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, sent a letter on Nov. 28 to FTC Chair Lina Khan demanding answers.

“What enforcement have you done, what do you have pending, will you in fact take action against Ticketmaster in connection with the fiasco that occurred in connection with the Taylor Swift sale of tickets?” Blumenthal asked.

Efforts by FOCUS to speak with Ticketmaster and the FTC have been unsuccessful.

Credit: WHAS-TV
Three friends are looking at ticket prices for one of Taylor Swift's shows during her "Eras" tour.

Reselling tickets obtained by the use of bots is federally illegal, so what does that mean for resale sites where you still can find hundreds of tickets for just one of Taylor Swift’s sold out shows?

“They just kept selling out really quick,” McKenzie Kane, 17, another “Swifty” reiterated. “Then next thing you know, a couple hours later, people are trying to resell them for thousands of dollars, which isn’t fair because why did you buy tickets in the first place? Because now people, who can’t afford that price, don’t get tickets.”

Stay tuned to hear from StubHub about its responsibilities when it comes to ticket bots.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users.

Have a news tip? Email assign@whas11.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.

Before You Leave, Check This Out