Trying to see Taylor Swift live? You’re on your own, kid.
Tickets for the pop star’s highly-anticipated “Eras Tour” became available for presale on Tuesday morning to lucky Swifties selected as “verified fans” by Ticketmaster. However, for many, today wasn’t a fairytale.
I started my ticket-buying journey at 8 a.m. PT, an hour before my purchasing window for the Glendale, Ariz. shows. While Ticketmaster issued the codes, both Glendale and the Arlington, Texas concert presales were executed through SeatGeek.
The previous night, my friends and I negotiated our budget ceiling. It was reported that non-VIP tickets would max out at $449, but I’ve been burned by dynamic pricing too many times to enter a ticket sale unprepared for price gouging. I opened up my presale link on two computers and my phone in hopes of increasing my chances of getting through the queue. As I scrolled Twitter to get tips from Swifties on the East Coast, panic set in.
Many fans attempting to snag tickets took to Twitter to voice their frustrations — while some made it through to purchase, many were met with a queue indicating “2,000+ people ahead of you.” To make matters worse, Ticketmaster then “temporarily paused” the queue, leaving hopefuls in limbo with no indication of when they may be let through.
As soon as the clock struck 9, I was redirected to SeatGeek’s virtual line. Unlike Ticketmaster, there was no telling where I was in the queue: the words “you’re in line” were accompanied by an unmoving orange progress bar.
At 9:09 a.m., one of my computers displayed a blurry image of the seat map. It took another four minutes for the interface to actually load. I immediately noticed that I was assigned March 18, with no option to try for the March 17 show, despite Ticketmaster’s assurance that the verified fan presale would apply to any dates for your selected venue. I decided not to waste time over the date, instead locking in on the very front of the pit, choosing four seats as close to the stage as possible.
I was brought to another screen, ready to pay… only to be told my selected seats were already snatched up. It took another five minutes for the seat map to load again — and I immediately noticed that the seats I had just attempted to buy were still listed as available on the map. I ignored them and tried again in section after section, repeating the “already taken” experience three more times.
My boss called me in the middle of my ticket-induced meltdown. After an attempt to discuss the workday was interrupted by my screams of expletives, we cut things short. “Get your tickets and call me after you’re done,” he said, clearly recognizing I was in a frenzy.
At 9:18 a.m., I finally managed to pick some seats that were actually available in the front section of the pit. I was, to borrow a phrase from Swift, “The Lucky One,” snagging four tickets at $429 each (plus the dreaded service fees, adding $99.14 to each ticket).
After soaking in the glory of being my friend group’s hero (and finally calling my boss back), I texted another pal buying tickets for an L.A. show. “Ticketmaster has not let me into the waiting room, which was supposed to be open 20 minutes ago,” he said. After 20 minutes, he was pushed to a sale at 3 p.m. PT.
Ticketmaster addressed the crash in a statement on social media, citing “historically unprecedented demand with millions showing up to buy tickets.” The seller delayed the Capital One presale by a full day, moving it to Wednesday at 2 p.m. local venue time.
Moreover, fans who had tickets to Swift’s canceled “Lover Fest” were promised “preferred access” to the sale, but it seems that fell to the wayside during the purchase process, with many reporting they still waited in the general presale queue.
A quick glance at StubHub shows that seats in my section now range from $1,999 to $12,825. If the verified fan system was intended to stop scalpers from reselling tickets at a premium… it didn’t. It’s curious that Ticketmaster, which controlled the number of verified fans, wouldn’t have the means to support the sale.
Obviously, tickets for Swift’s concerts are a hot commodity, but no one should be forced to take days off work and wait in hours-long lines with no end in sight just to see their favorite artist. While I’m grateful I’ll be able to attend the “Eras Tour,” I can’t stop thinking about how poorly this sale went — and this is far from the first strike against these sellers.
Ticketmaster and SeatGeek: You’re the problem, it’s you.