NJ congressman slams Ticketmaster as ‘Anti-hero’ after Taylor Swift meltdown
“It's me, hi, I'm the problem, it's me.”
If you ask one of New Jersey’s congressmen, that Taylor Swift lyric sums up Ticketmaster’s massive ticket meltdown this week — while the ticket retailer has pointed a finger at automated bots used by scalpers.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. 9th District, riffed on some other lyrics to the same Swift song “Anti-hero,” in slamming the ticket behemoth after pre-sales for the pop star's upcoming tour went horribly awry.
The North Jersey Democrat tweeted “@Ticketmaster should not be left alone to their devices. They come up with prices and vices. #Swifties end up in crisis. Break up Ticketmaster,” followed by a few tour hashtags.
Earlier Thursday, Ticketmaster announced that the general on-sale window for Swift tickets would never open, after a record-breaking two-million tickets were purchased in one day during the pre-sale that crashed the company’s website.
The tweet,“Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow's public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled," was met with instant outrage and despair from fans shutout in attempting to get tickets.
Ticketmaster's Verified Fan System was launched in 2017 to try and stop scalpers from using technology to snap up all available tickets and post them for obscenely marked-up prices.
But, the bots were apparently too fast for Swifties, according to Ticketmaster, which merged with LiveNation in 2010 to become the only ticket seller for a majority of U.S. venues.
Floor seats to the first of three MetLife Stadium shows in May have been listed on one resale site for between $2,400 and $17,000, each.
Upper level tickets, in the 300s at the stadium in East Rutherford started at more than $800, each, for the same night on the same site.
It was pretty much the same range for the first night at Lincoln Financial Field, a couple weeks earlier.
Floor seats have been listed on the same resale site for between $1,800 and $10,000, each.
Upper level seats at the same Philadelphia venue started at about $800, for the same show.
Swift is slated to play Lincoln Financial Field on May 12, 13 and 14. The tour then hits MetLife Stadium on May 26, 27 and 28.
Frustrated fans and politicians have been focusing in recent days on the monopoly that Ticketmaster holds on ticket sales.
A federal measure aimed at combating the use of technology by ticket brokers who are selling concert tickets for the price of a mortgage payment or more was actually passed six years ago.
The Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act was enacted in 2016, giving the Federal Trade Commission authority to take law enforcement action against such individuals and companies.
Nearly two years ago, the first ever cases were filed against three ticket brokers based in New York, in January 2021.
The brokers were subject to a judgment of more than $31 million in civil penalties for violating the BOTS Act, under a proposed settlement with the FTC.
But, “due to their inability to pay,” the judgment was partially suspended, requiring them to pay only $3.7 million.
In the aftermath of The Eras Tour debacle, Pascrell's office is taking a survey of just who missed out on Swift tickets.
Federal probe requested
Pascrell also led 31 Congress members, including several others from NJ, calling on the Department of Justice to open a formal investigation of Ticketmaster.
“There is overwhelming evidence that the merger between the world’s largest concert promoter and the largest ticket provider strangled competition for ticketing in the live entertainment marketplace,” the letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, in part.
The letter was signed by Reps. Pascrell, Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12), Donald Payne, Jr. (D-10), Josh Gottheimer (D-5) and Andy Kim (D-3), in addition to colleagues from other states.
On Friday, Taylor Swift said it was "excruciating" to watch "mistakes happen with no recourse."
In a statement posted to Instagram stories, the singer railed against the ticket retailer, without mentioning it by name.
“I’m not going to make excuses for anyone because we asked them, multiple times, if they could handle this kind of demand and we were assured they could,” Swift said, adding there were a "multitude of reasons why people had such a hard time."
“It’s truly amazing that 2.4 million people got tickets, but it really pisses me off that a lot of them feel like they went through several bear attacks to get them.”
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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