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Robert Smith Is Fighting The Good Fight: Will Scalpers Always Find A Way?

Robert Smith
Robert Smith

You have to admire Robert Smith and his recent efforts to fight the scam of our century: the ticket industry. He has updated his fans via his Twitter account of his progress and overall, the Cure community is grateful despite a few complaints… but nobody should blame Robert because he is really trying and is fighting the good fight.

First, he warned us that the Cure tickets on sale on secondary ticket sites were not legitimate and that he would work to cancel them. Then he promised fairly priced tickets for the US tour if we used a verified fan registration while banning dynamic pricing, a practice which is done for every concert using Ticketmaster.

Tons of people registered, and since they expected a huge demand, a lottery system was installed. If selected, you were allowed to pick a ticket on Wednesday morning using a personalized code. However, many of us were on the waiting list. I eventually received a code to buy a ticket for one of the shows at the Hollywood Bowl – I didn’t have a choice for the date, the Cure plays three nights at the Bowl – but many people on the waiting list never received one. When I was allowed to access the sale, many tickets had already been bought, and it didn’t go smoothly. After 15-20 attempts and repeated messages “oops something went wrong,” I finally bought a ticket in a desperate move. It’s not a very good one as it is a seat on the extreme left side with a partially obstructed view, but at least it’s not a nosebleed on the lawn!

Robert Smith even fought Ticketmaster’s outrageous fees and has forced the ticket giant to offer a $5-10 refund to all verified fan accounts. I don’t know if it applies to mine ($100 + fees) but it doesn’t matter, it’s an exceptional victory. Overall, I am impressed with what he was able to do since StubHub and SeatGeek have currently pulled listings for most of the venues: there are none on sale for the Hollywood Bowl’s dates.

However, and it’s a big step down, Vividseats, one of the biggest ticket resellers, still has tons of tickets for sale, at prices way above the face value, for every show of the tour including the three shows at the Hollywood Bowl. Some people were arguing that tickets on Vividseats were not legit, or fake. However, I seriously doubt that a $1.5 billion revenue company, which offers a 100% buyer guarantee would risk a giant lawsuit. Imagine how many people have already bought and will buy tickets for this tour on Vividseats. It’s not conceivable to imagine them all turned down at the entrance of the venues. Before the verified fan sale, the listings on Vividseats were vague, but now they all have a section and row number like for any concert, so they are physical tickets without any doubt.

Robert Smith has announced that the tour is 99% sold out and the tickets bought via the verified fan sale are not transferrable. So it’s difficult to comprehend all these tickets on the reseller site because when you buy a ticket on Vividseats, they usually transfer it directly to your account. How is Vividseats able to get around this technical problem? Well, nothing prevents a scalper from setting up multiple phone numbers and multiple verified Ticketmaster accounts. When they transfer a ticket, they can also transfer the Ticketmaster account (with username and password). It’s much more difficult than usual, but these people are professionals and I guess it’s not that hard for them.

Does this mean that, despite all his generous efforts, Robert Smith didn’t completely succeed? Probably. Ticketmaster is still one of the most corrupt industries around. How was Vividseats able to acquire all these tickets in the first place when I was struggling to get one via the fan-verified sale? Did all these scalpers get a code prior to all the fans? It is not a stretch to imagine that Ticketmaster and Vividseats negotiate deals behind the public’s back. Anyway, scalpers, like nature, always find a way…

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