Tickets for a Boss hog
Buying tickets to a Bruce Springsteen show has never been a simple process. And so, naturally, Ticketmaster looked to fix the problem by overcomplicating it. For years, fans have battled illegal bots snatching up dozens of tickets for nefarious scalpers to hold for ransom, only selling to those willing to pay five times their price. To combat this, Ticketmaster has decided to hold tickets hostage for a select group of fans in a new buying format called Verified Fan.
After you sign up, the ticket outlet determines whether you’re likely to flip the tickets or not by using a suspect algorithm based on how many times you’ve seen Springsteen in the past. Only those who are “verified” are sent a code via text message, granting them access to the sales page. The rest are placed on “standby,” forced to stare at their phones for hours in hopes that seats will free up.
Under such a set-up, there’s an obvious element of ageism: pity the poor Millennial who will be competing with a Generation X’er who has followed the Boss since 1975. But as it turns out, even being alive to vividly remember the days of a Springsteen who had an unhealthy obsession for denim wasn’t enough. Within minutes of the Verified Fan codes being sent out last week, waves of disgruntled fans took to social media to voice their incredulity over the fact that having seen the Boss 80 times in the past wasn’t enough for Ticketmaster to consider them true fans.
Sure enough, all 84 shows sold out while most fans never got past “standby.” As for me, I’ll be heading to Broadway. My best hope was to enlist six friends who would be working on my behalf to get tickets. All six of us anxiously clutched our phones on two separate Wednesday mornings. I had one phone in each hand trying to will a text message to pop up on each one. Unsurprisingly, both screens stayed black.
It was only because of Verified Fan’s many flaws that one member of my ticket army was able to score Springsteen tickets. He probably can’t tell you the difference between “Born to Run” and “Born in the U.S.A.”, but according to Ticketmaster, he’s more of a fan than I am. The company will tell you Verified Fan is a success, but there remains no foolproof plan to give fans an equal shot at tickets without also alienating a majority of them.
However, Ticketmaster could do me one favour in the meantime: bring back the bots. I’d rather take my chances with them.