Ticketmaster execs called to testify before Congress after Taylor Swift tickets fiasco

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Congress wants to question Ticketmaster on Taylor Swift tickets fiasco
Ticketmaster is being called before Congress after the Taylor Swift tickets fiasco for her Eras tour a few weeks ago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A local Congresswoman is leading the way to get more answers from Ticketmaster about the Taylor Swift ticket fiasco.

Many fans are now left scrambling and faced with paying several thousand dollars for tickets.

Despite the criticism and problems, Ticketmaster said the vast majority of those Taylor Swift tickets were sold to their verified fans, not bots.

However, lawmakers want Ticketmaster to come to Congress to talk about the sales process, as many fans are now faced with paying third parties sky-high prices.

"I've played her music in the hospital during procedures," said Sabeeh Baig, one of Taylor Swift's biggest fans.

Baig, who lives with a rare muscular dystrophy disorder, met Swift on her Reputation tour.

Baig and her mom tried to get ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act, seating in Chicago for the latest Eras tour. Baig said she tried to buy seats through Ticketmaster's verified fans program, for $299.

"I was in the queue for 5 hours," she said.

She had no luck. Then Ticketmaster's site crashed. She tried the next day as a qualified Capital One member.

"I had them in my cart and they were ripped away from me, so I called Ticketmaster and they said there is nothing they can do," Baig said.

Baig, her family and her caregiver are searching on third party sites and only finding ADA seats with price tags as high as $4,000.

No matter what kind of seat you're looking for, third party sites could be charging several thousand dollars.

Baig showed the I-Team posts where people said they accidentally purchased ADA tickets and now want to sell them. Others are scalpers. Ticketmaster tries to prevent people from fraudulently purchasing ADA seats by asking buyers to agree to terms and conditions.

"There were some people bragging about how they got ADA seats because they are the best available and close to the bathrooms, they are so great; it is so disappointing because there are so many of us with limited seating options," Baig said. "I love seeing her live. Her music brings me joy."

There is no joy from 9th District U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, when it comes to Ticketmaster. She wants Ticketmaster to improve its sales process for future events.

"We want a complete explanation of the problems that we have had. So we are calling them in," Schakowsky said.

Schakowsky is chair of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee. She and a bipartisan group of congressional leaders sent a letter to Ticketmaster asking them to come in for a briefing and give a full explanation of its sales process.

The letter claims that during the Taylor Swift Eras tour sale, "millions of fans endured delays, lockouts, and competition with aggressive scammers, scalpers, and bots," adding that it "raises concerns over the potential unfair and deceptive practices that face consumers and eventgoers."

"I think in many ways consumers are really held hostage," Schakowsky said.

On its website Ticketmaster said a "new record" of fans were seeking tickets, and claims less than 5% of the tickets for the Eras tour have been sold or posted for resale on the secondary market. Ticketmaster added that its verified fans program eventually did get tickets into the hands of real fans, not bots.

However, Congress questions Ticketmaster's bot management, saying the company's own website admits that even though 3.5 million people were pre-registered to be verified fans, there were another 3.5 billion requests from bots or people who didn't have verified codes.

"I feel like they could have handled it better and not so many presales all at once," said Baig.

Schakowsky agreed, saying sales should be staggered for shows and that other sales options like calling a ticket agent could possibly be brought back.

"Its super frustrating, disappointing, we just don't know what to do," Baig said.

Ticketmaster said the Taylor Swift ticket demand was so high that she would need to perform 900 shows, or a stadium show every single night for the next two and a half years.

Ticketmaster also said now that some "verified fans" will get invitations to possibly have another chance at getting tickets before Thursday.

Schakowsky's spokesperson said late Tuesday that Ticketmaster has agreed to come in for that briefing in front of congress but no date has been set.