SaskTel Centre is assuring Saskatoon ticket-buyers that they haven’t been affected by Ticketmaster’s alleged schemes to encourage ticket scalpers and raise prices for consumers.
The ticketing giant has been facing backlash after an undercover investigation by the Toronto Star and CBC found TicketMaster employees were purportedly telling scalpers at a Las Vegas conference that the company turns a blind eye to mass-ticket buying through bots.
Bots are automated computer algorithms which can be programmed to purchase thousands of tickets at a time online for a scalper.
The investigation also alleged Ticketmaster deliberately withholds blocks of tickets for events, creating the illusion of scarcity and thus inflating ticket prices.
However, while Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre sells its tickets using Ticketmaster, executive director Scott Ford said the arena is insulated from the issues raised by the reports.
“We don’t have those problems that came out in the stories,” he told 650 CKOM in an interview Thursday.
He said SaskTel Centre is licensed as a franchisee of Ticketmaster, meaning the arena maintains control of their ticket inventory while using the company’s online software to secure purchases and distribute tickets.
Ford noted Saskatchewan’s Ticket Sales Act also provides protections by limiting purchases within the first hour of ticket releases to a geographical area consisting of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Montana and North Dakota.
Any purchases from outside the region are cancelled, and SaskTel Centre manually attempts to contact the phone numbers listed on the orders.
“Every once in a while you’ll get someone that lives in Saskatchewan that’s in Phoenix (on vacation),” he said.
“But the bots, when you phone them there’s no answer, so we cancel them.”
The Saskatchewan Ticket Sales Act, enacted in 2011, made bot-purchasing of tickets illegal in the province.
Ford said in the first hour of sales for the Garth Brooks concert, 1,000 orders were believed to be scalper buys and were cancelled by SaskTel Centre.
Ford also stated SaskTel Centre doesn’t hold back blocks of tickets from the public to raise prices.
He said some tickets are reserved for pre-sales to fan clubs and radio stations, but none are hidden away once the public sale begins.
However, there are some “sightline” tickets that can be held until the day of an event before they’re sold.
“Certain features of the event might have production pieces that obscure the viewing of the stage, and those are held until they know they’re good for the customer to see the show,” Ford said.
Asked if SaskTel Centre could end up searching for a new software partner in the wake of the investigative report, Ford maintained Ticketmaster’s program was still the best option.
“Ticketmaster is the safest way to purchase tickets,” he said.