We Spoke To Ticket Experts To Work Out Why Buying Concert Tickets Feels Harder Than Brain Surgery

Last year, millions of Aussies lost countless hours waiting to buy Taylor Swift Eras Tour tickets from Ticketek. Yet despite being written off as a rare instance of ticket vendors not being able to meet demand, this month fans of SZA were frustrated at the difficulty of getting tickets to her Australian shows. Hell, just this week Fred again.. fans crashed the Opera House website in their ticket frenzy, so clearly something’s not working, right?

“I was pretty much stuck in the Ticketek lounge for two days, for nearly 48 hours,” Melbourne woman Liv, 22, told PEDESTRIAN.TV about her experience trying to buy Taylor Swift tickets.

Even just this week when Fred again.. announced his surprise show at the Sydney Opera House, the second tickets went on sale, fans were left frustrated as the theatre’s website crashed when hundreds of thousands joined the online queue.

There’s plenty of problems when buying tickets, but according to concert goers we surveyed, the three biggest frustrations are:

  1. The “random” waiting room system.
  2. The quality of customer service.
  3. The additional fees that come with buying tickets.

So why does it seem like buying tickets to concerts is getting increasingly more impossible? What is going on behind the scenes of ticket selling sites? And what can fans do if they’ve been done dirty?

Why do ticket sellers use a randomised lounge? 

Contrary to popular belief, Ticketek and other ticket selling sites don’t operate their waiting rooms like a traditional queue where patience is (eventually) rewarded.

Instead, customers are effectively chosen at random – a system that upset many concert goers.

“The Lounge is our way of prioritising fair access for genuine fans only. The security and the protections that we have in place will not let bots into the lounge,” a Ticketek’s spokesperson told PEDESTRIAN.TV.

Interestingly, one of the few venues that DOES use a traditional queue system that tells you your place in line is the Sydney Opera House – whose servers crumbled under the weight of just a tenth of the users that a big act like Taylor Swift would have brought. 

So while the lounge system might be anxiety-inducing  it’s aimed at stopping  bots from getting the tickets that belong to the fans – even if it means potentially waiting for 48 hours – while also keeping its servers running for millions of users at once.

Why do concert tickets feel harder to buy? 

As any economics dropout could tell you, this issue comes down to low supply and astronomical demand. Tickets are getting easier to sell, which also means they’re way harder to buy.

“These days, it’s easy to sell tens of thousands of tickets very very quickly, and tickets for any A or B grade artist sell very quickly,” Alex Coetzee, strategy director for ticket resell site The Ticket Merchant, told P.TV. 

Taylor Swift sold approximately 400,000 tickets to her Eras Tour across Australia, but more than four million Aussies wanted to buy them. This means that for every Swiftie who got a ticket, nine missed out – and that’s a low estimate. 

Why is customer service difficult to get?

Ticketek shared that they are constantly “working around the clock to assist customers”, but are dealing with ‘yuge numbers of requests.

“Unfortunately, our team are also dealing with thousands of queries that either relate to fraudulent tickets or other scams,” shared the Ticketek spokesperson.

“The Ticketek team are constantly monitoring web and social channels to detect and remove any such sites. Unfortunately, these are indicative of the length unscrupulous fraudsters will go to capitalise on the Taylor phenomenon. We will continue to dedicate significant responses to ensure that real fans are protected. 

@catherinedrew #erastour #taylorswifterastour #erastoursydney #swifttok #swiftie #fyp ♬ take a moment to breathe. – normal the kid

So just like when organising a house party: Mo’ people equals mo’ problems.

What about the additional fees after purchase?

According to Alex, these fees are not 100% straight for the profit of the company that sold the ticket, but are “split back between the contracted parties”. 

Additionally, Ticketek’s spokesperson clarified that it “does not charge a service fee for people to print their tickets at home”, but does charge other fees.

“The fees are clearly outlined throughout the transaction purchase path and take account of the costs associated with providing the services to customers, as well as for each venue and event, which may vary depending on the requirements of each venue or event,” the spokesperson said.

And if you do feel you’ve genuinely been misled, you can always take it up with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) to pursue, who expect “sufficient customer service” from ticket sellers.

“Consumers that feel they have been misled, or that have a dispute with a ticket seller or event organiser, can lodge a complaint with their local fair trading or consumer affairs agency,” an ACCC spokesperson told us.

How to improve your ticket buying chances

In this modern world of randomised lounges, the old tactics of turning up early no longer work. But modern problems require modern solutions.

Rather than logging one device into the lounge before the sale begins, the best strategy to increase your chances of getting tickets is with increased devices. That way you have higher chances of just ONE of them being selected randomly to the buying stage.

That said, the more devices logged on to a server being kept in a waiting room may cause other unforeseen issues.

Good luck out there folks, and may the randomised odds be ever in your favour.