Paperless Tickets Flourish Despite ‘Grandma Problem’
Hugh Pickens writes “Is a concert ticket a piece of property that its holder has the right to buy and sell as he sees fit, or is it merely a seat-rental contract subject to restrictions determined by its issuer? The Washington Post reports that in an effort to thwart scalpers and dampen ticket reselling on the so-called secondary market, musicians as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, and Metallica have adopted ‘paperless ticketing’ for some or all of the seats at their live shows. Ticket issuers Ticketmaster and Veritix tout paperless tickets as a way to eliminate worries about lost, stolen, or counterfeit tickets, and to banish long will-call lines. But paperless tickets aren’t really tickets at all, but essentially personal seat reservations, secured electronically like airline tickets. Fans buy tickets with a credit card and must then go to the venue with the same credit card and a photo ID to gain admittance. The problem is that Ticketmaster’s paperless tickets can’t be transferred from a buyer to a second party. The inability to pass along a seat creates what has become known in the industry as the ‘grandma problem’: it’s almost impossible for a grandma living at one end of the country to buy a paperless ticket to giver to a grandchild living at the other end. Without the ability to transfer virtual tickets, brokers and dealers fear being run out of business, and consumers have a harder time selling unwanted tickets. ‘People should be free to give away or sell their tickets to whomever they want, whenever they want,’ says Gary Adler, a Washington attorney who represents the National Association of Ticket Brokers. ‘An open market is really best for consumers.’”
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