Ticketmaster has now enraged the passionate fans of two of the world’s biggest acts: Taylor Swift and Bad Bunny.
Last weekend in Mexico City, the Puerto Rican rapper performed two sold-out shows at the 85,000-seat Azteca Stadium, but more than a thousand fans who purchased tickets via Ticketmaster were turned away. Ticketmaster issued a statement saying that ticket holders who were denied entry will be refunded, then claimed that the cause of the problem was fake tickets.
But Mexican regulators tell a different story.
Ricardo Sheffield, head of Mexico’s Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer (PROFECO), said in a Spanish-language interview with Radio Fórmula that these tickets weren’t fake — Ticketmaster issued all of these tickets, after all. What happened, from Sheffield’s point of view, is that Ticketmaster simply oversold the event. Sheffield said that in addition to full ticket refunds, affected customers will get a 20% compensation fee. PROFECO will also fine Ticketmaster up to 10% of the company’s sales for the year in Mexico.
Sheffield said that about 1,600 fans on Friday and 110 fans on Saturday were turned away despite having tickets.
U.S. regulators are also investigating Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment. In November, the Justice Department opened an antitrust investigation into the entertainment giant.
“As we have stated many times in the past, Live Nation takes its responsibilities under the antitrust laws seriously and does not engage in behaviors that could justify antitrust litigation, let alone orders that would require it to alter fundamental business practices,” the company responded in a statement.
Consumers have long bemoaned the frustrating process of securing tickets to a high-demand show on Ticketmaster — it’s one thing when you lose out tickets to other fans, but oftentimes, a show will sell out within minutes, usually due to competition from bots — and then, thousands of tickets instantly reappear on resale sites like Vivid Seats, SeatGeek and StubHub for a way higher price. In the case of the Taylor Swift Eras tour presale, Ticketmaster blamed bots for its issues, despite issuing presale codes to a select group of “verified fans.”
“Historically, we’ve been able to manage huge volume coming into the site to shop for tickets, so those with Verified Fan codes have a smooth shopping process,” Ticketmaster said in a statement. “However, this time the staggering number of bot attacks as well as fans who didn’t have codes drove unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests — 4x our previous peak.”
In total, more than two million Taylor Swift tickets were sold on November 15, which broke Ticketmaster’s record for most tickets ever sold for an artist in a single day. But so many fans couldn’t access secure tickets at all, or spent hours waiting in unprecedented virtual lines, only to be turned away.
To quote Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan, Ticketmaster’s meltdown during the presale for the Taylor Swift’s Eras tour “converted more Gen Z’ers into antimonopolists overnight than anything I could have done.”