Buying concert tickets often 'rigged game' costing fans more

Buying tickets for a U2 concert, Lollapalooza and the Pitchfork Music Festival can cost fans double or triple the cost due to industry practices and third-party services that can jack up the costs.

But why and how do fans beat the system?

When buying a ticket to Lady Gaga at Wrigley Field or coveted "Hamilton" tickets, fans go to third-party websites and paying hundreds of dollars more than the original price.

Frank Chlebek surprised his wife with tickets to the smash-hit musical "Hamilton" at $430 per ticket from, the official Broadway in Chicago website.

"I drove down at noon, got the tickets, and I thought 'Wow, these tickets are only $85. What the?" Chlebek told the I-Team.

That's right, the face value of those same seats were much cheaper. Chlebek said he didn't realize he purchased tickets through Ticketmaster's third-party resale option, "fan-to-fan" resale, though it's cited on the website.

Ticketmaster at first agreed to an interview with the I-Team, but then did not respond to the request for comment.

"When you go to buy tickets to a concert or a sporting event, you're often playing a rigged game," said John Breyault, of the National Consumers League.

Breyault is critical of the concert ticket industry.

"More than half of the tickets we find, on average - never make it to the on sale to begin with. They're held back for connected insiders: People who are members of the fan club, who may have a premium credit card rewards club membership... They're often diverted directly to ticket brokers to be sold on the secondary market," Breyault said.

However, Chlebek is not alone.

Josh Hale paid $500 to go to Lollapalooza.

"I know, I know and I'm not going back," Hale said.

Another concertgoer Jenna Fleisher said: "Usually I end up going to Craigslist or like Stub Hub and it's obviously not the same price and that is unfortunate."

According to a 2016 investigation By New York's Attorney General, many third-party brokers average a 49-percent increase in face value.

"The brokers now, with new technology have the ability to swoop in the moments tickets are released to the public," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in January 2016.

That ticket-bot software is illegal in the U.S. but can still be used outside of the country.

Ticketmaster recently launched the anti-bot program called "verified fan." This gives recording artists the option to require ticket buyers to register on Ticketmaster's website. It's a way to prevent bots from buying up tickets.

If you really want access to face value tickets, you will have to work for them.

Consider joining fan clubs for premiere ticket access. For Broadway in Chicago shows, you can buy a presale membership.

And you can always try to buy the old-fashioned way -- in line

"Actually going to the box office for a particular venue and trying to buy tickets there," Breyault said.

That's right, experts said at most locations you can still buy tickets at the venue box office. That could give you an advantage.

If you're a regular concert goer, you can also pay for special credit cards which give you first crack at buying tickets for face value.

If you feel you've been charged unfairly for tickets, you can file a complaint with the attorney general's office.


National Consumers League's practical guide to buying live event and sports tickets:

New York Attorney General's report of consumer abuses in the live entertainment ticket industry
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.