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Groups warn of "speculative ticketing" as some websites sell Taylor Swift tickets for $1,200 apiece

The practice allows unofficial sellers to list tickets for sale even though they do not actually have those tickets.
Taylor Swift concert in Pittsburgh is largest ever in stadium history
Posted at 10:55 AM, Aug 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-09 19:09:11-04

INDIANAPOLIS —Tickets for the 2024 Taylor Swift concerts in Indianapolis go on sale on Friday, August 11.

However, if you’re one of the thousands of people who received a “you’re on the waitlist,” you may be looking for another way to buy tickets.

Some websites are currently selling Taylor Swift tickets for more than $1,200 per ticket for the November 2024 shows at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Several organizations including the Better Business Bureau, Ticketmaster and the National Independent Venue Association issued warnings about “speculative ticketing,” a practice that allows unofficial sellers to list tickets for sale even though they do not actually have those tickets.

The practice, also known as “speculative listing,” means the sellers are speculating that they will be able to get tickets and resell them to fans.

They are betting (or speculating) that they will be able to get tickets and then resell them to fans, according to Ticketmaster.

“People claiming to sell these tickets are committing fraud and this practice is illegal in many states,” Ticketmaster said on its website. “Speculative ticketing forces real fans to compete against resellers who are acquiring tickets to fulfill the speculations they made. These resellers are actually preventing fans from getting tickets through a legitimate source like Ticketmaster.”

The Better Business Bureau is also warning consumers this week.

“Sometimes, ticket resellers will even have tickets before the official sale date due to season ticket holders, band fan club members, and the like, who often get tickets before they go on sale to the general public,” the BBB said in an alert. “Be very wary, however, as ‘speculative ticketing’ is becoming more common when events are in high demand. This is a practice of attempting to sell tickets that resellers do not possess yet - and may never have to offer - in advance of an event's on-sale date.”

The BBB also warned some fraudulent resellers may even provide phony ticket codes for legitimate ticketing websites.

The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) says consumers are frequently deceived or confused by speculative ticket sellers and significant non-refundable costs (travel, hotels, etc.) for consumers associated with speculative tickets that may never be delivered.

"It’s deceptive, it’s abusive, it's gouging customers," said Audrey Schaefer, VP of Board of Directors for the National Independent Venue Association. "It is ripping off the company that is putting the show on and ripping off the artist."

Although some states have laws against speculative ticketing, Indiana does not, nor is there a federal law in place against the practice.

"That’s what we are trying to change," said Schaefer. "I think consumers need to be protected. The internet has made it so easy for people to rip off consumers from far away."

NIVA is urging Congress to ban the practice, saying it would provide a uniform standard across all states and ensure that consumers are protected from “fraudulent” practices.

"The best thing people can do is go directly to the website of the venue that is hosting the show, because that way they know they’re getting it from a real ticket seller," said Schaefer. "They’ll get real tickets, real seats and they’ll be guaranteed to get in. If they go anywhere else on any other site, they’re taking their chances."

WRTV Investigates has contacted three different websites who are selling 2024 Taylor Swift tickets for more than $1,200 apiece.

For example, StubHub is selling upper level tickets for $1,282 each.

StubHub provided the following statement to WRTV:

Tickets may be available ahead of the public on-sale as there are people who have access to tickets before an official on-sale – the people could be season ticket holders, sponsors, venues and artist personnel, or other industry insiders. There’s no incentive for anyone to attempt to sell a ticket they don’t have, as they will not be paid unless the buyer gets into the event successfully. They can also be charged penalty fees and banned for any abuse of our policies. Even so, StubHub invests significantly in a range of anti-fraud measures to stop invalid tickets from being sold on our platform. Further, buyers can purchase with confidence as every order is backed by StubHub’s FanProtect Guarantee that ensures a buyer gets into an event and, in the rare instances of issues, we will look to provide comparable or better tickets or they’re due a full refund. It’s important to note that less than .02% of orders have any issue at the door.

Demand for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour on StubHub

  • Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is the best-selling tour worldwide on StubHub this year 
    • Eras Tour has already outsold the final sales of her 2018 Reputation Tour on StubHub by more than 11x and U.S. dates have outsold Beyonce’s U.S. dates by 17x
  • What may be even more noteworthy is that 83% of people selling tickets for this tour on StubHub are first-time sellers - they’ve never sold a ticket before. 
  • Tips for buyers and sellers can be found on StubHub’s Eras tour info page: []/

StubHub Guarantee and Policy

  • StubHub is a marketplace that connects sellers with extra tickets to buyers interested in purchasing tickets - we do not own nor list tickets. We are a marketplace that offers a secure and flexible marketplace for fans to buy and sell.
  • StubHub’s FanProtect Guarantee ensures that every order will get a buyer in the door, and if any issue occurs, we’ll find an equivalent or better ticket, or provide a full refund, but our priority is always to get our customers in the door.
  • There is no incentive for a seller to list a ticket they can’t deliver on - per StubHub’s Seller Policies [], sellers don’t get paid unless a buyer gets in the door and are fined if additional measures require us to purchase another ticket to get the buyer in the door. Further, if it’s apparent a seller is acting maliciously, we will suspend them and even work with law enforcement, as it warrants.
  • The great majority of our sellers for this tour (>80%) are first time-sellers - since realizing that, we’ve launched additional proactive measures and policies to help support both buyers and sellers and mitigate any issues, many of which are caused by human error. 
    • There are many different reasons a seller may have an issue – it could be that the seller sold the tickets on another platform, decided to keep the tickets for themselves, or they gifted them to a friend, then forgot to remove the listing, or we’ve largely seen human error - listing the wrong ticket details like adding a zero where it doesn’t belong, not following our email reminders to confirm a ticket has been delivered, etc.
    • It’s worth reinforcing that less than .02% of orders have issues at the door

When you’ve already purchased on StubHub, there’s three key tips:

  1. Monitor your inbox + verify ticket details- be sure to also check your junk mail for your ticket delivery confirmation and details – you should receive this on the day of purchase. Check the order to be sure it’s for the correct date and time.
  2. Accept ticket transfers immediately - Review the ticket delivery details provided by StubHub in an email — methods vary by artist, venue, and event. Once received, accept ticket transfers from the seller immediately to allow time to contact support, if necessary.
  3. Contact customer service immediately - if tickets are not delivered by the date provided in the initial email, or if you have issues downloading them, be sure to immediately contact customer service to allow ample time to resolve and offer replacement tickets, if necessary.

WRTV also found SeatGeek listing tickets for Swift’s Nov 2, 2024 show at $1,239 for Section 618, Row 26 each.

The listing says the tickets will be delivered by October 31, 2024.

SeatGeak provided the following statement to WRTV criticizing the “rhetoric about spec tickets”:

  • SeatGeek has a seller verification process that sellers must pass in order to sell on SeatGeek, and all sellers must adhere to our Seller Agreement [] which helps ensure sellers behave as good actors in the marketplace.
  • While our policies above ensure a strong buying and selling experience on SeatGeek, the rhetoric about spec tickets often oversimplifies what is actually a more complicated situation.
    • Different venues, event types, and ticket types all handle the availability of tickets differently, with some tickets being guaranteed in advance of publicized on-sales, making the concept of ticket availability fluid.
    • These fluid rules, in turn, directly inform our handling of what tickets should be made available for sale on SeatGeek.

While competitors would have you believe ‘spec ticketing’ is the problem, the reality is an open API system would all but eliminate this practice. This allows all marketplaces to share information with each other on who owns a ticket. This functionality is a requirement for NFL’s ticket exchange [] and it works. Unfortunately, without a league to require this on the concert side, it’s up to the primary ticketer to allow this functionality and they refuse to do so.

(An open API system) allows all marketplaces to share data with each other on who owns a ticket. If the primary ticketer provides their API, marketplaces where people buy and sell tickets can then verify ticket ownership.

Regardless, all SeatGeek ticket buyers are protected by our Buyer Guarantee [].

The Future of Music Coalition is also against speculative ticketing.

"Brokers and predatory resale platforms like StubHub and Vivid Seats won’t put an end to this practice so we need policymakers to step up and ban the sale of fake tickets," said Kevin Erickson, director of musician advocacy group for the Future of Music Coalition. "Until that happens, consumers can protect themselves by only buying tickets from the official source that artists and venues refer you to."

The Better Business Bureau issued these tips:

  • Look for ticket resellers that protect buyers. Ticket resellers should have a consumer protection policy and/or be registered with the National Association of Ticket Brokers. Most major ticket resellers will typically provide a full refund if the ticket is forgery. It’s a service covered by charging a commission on the sale.
  • Buying from a reseller selling primary tickets adds a layer of protection. For example, Live Nation or TicketMaster will invalidate the original ticket and create a new bar code for you. This ensures you are the only one in possession of the resale ticket.
  • Review the policies before making a purchase. You should only buy tickets from a ticket reseller that provides clear details about the transaction terms and how you will be refunded if the tickets are fake. Also, if the tickets are unavailable immediately, the reseller should disclose when the tickets will ship or be available for pickup.
  • Buy tickets with a credit card. Using a credit card helps protect you if the tickets are not as promised. Watch out for resellers who ask for unusual payment methods, such as sending gift cards or wiring money. This is a red flag. Learn more about payment types and how to protect yourself.