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In the battle against bots, Ticketmaster caught real Hootie and the Blowfish fans in the dragnet

January 11, 2019 06:11 PM

The News10NBC investigative team is getting a better understanding as to why dozens of Hootie and the Blowfish concert tickets were suddenly canceled. We have been working on this all week and have some answers from Ticketmaster. 

The problem was bots. 

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Those are artificial sites made to look like real human beings designed to buy up as many tickets as possible and then re-sell them at a higher price. The bots were after Hootie and the Blowfish tickets for the concert at CMAC in August. The tickets went on sale in early December. Ticketmaster tried to fend them off and weed them out but in doing so, it captured more than a dozen real fans in the dragnet. 

Real fans like Brian Staebell who bought two tickets for he and his wife. A few weeks later he discovered his two tickets were cancelled. 

Brian Staebell, had Hootie and the Blowfish tickets voided: "They said I violated their terms of use because they flagged my account saying I was buying multiple tickets under the same IP address."

When he got them on the phone, Staebell says Ticketmaster told him they thought he bought 65 tickets.

Brean: "And that's the reason why they flagged your account and voided your tickets."
Staebell: "That's correct."

So I've been working all week to help the Hootie and the Blowfish fans this happened to and to get an explanation from Ticketmaster. 
I asked specifically, why did this happen at the Hootie and the Blowfish concert? And how can people be assured it won't happen again?
Ticketmaster declined to answer questions on the phone but gave this statement:

"These instances occurred as a result of our ongoing effort to combat bots, and additional safeguards have been put in place to minimize the misidentification of fans in the future. Ticketmaster is fully committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans and we don't anticipate additional fans being affected for future onsales."

It's not going to happened to Lori Lacitignola of Geneseo again. After we helped get her tickets back, Ticketmaster white flagged her account. 

"I specifically said have I been black listed off of Ticketmaster and (the customer service agent) said no no no," Lacitignola said. "He told me I was white flagged. So I guess that's a good thing."

I gave Ticketmaster a list of more than 12 people who had their tickets canceled. It says it's going to help them. 

Bots are a massive problem. Ticketmaster says it blocks billions of bot attempts per month. At a recent ticket sale for a world famous singer, Ticketmaster said for every one real buyer there were 100 bots. 

Ticketmaster did not say the name of the artist. 

Credits

Berkeley Brean

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