Buying stuff online is great. Do you remember how much of a pain buying car or home insurance was before the advent of the internet. You used to have to sit down with a phone and actually speak to the sort of salespeople you actively avoid the rest of the year. Younger people won’t realize how awful it was, but believe me the boon of not speaking to insurance salesmen justifies the internet on it’s own, in my book at least.
However not everything online is a smooth and relaxing experience though. Buying something where there is competition is a completely different story and indeed can actually be more frustrating than queuing up in real life. Take for example a very popular concert, trying to get tickets can be extremely stressful.
You’d think that if you check out he time of release and sit yourself down at a computer with a credit card in hand would be everything you need? Well think again, as this is probably the start of a very tense hour or so. The problem is that everyone else is doing the same. Now if that happens in real life, especially in the UK, people would start a queue and you’d know where you stand. You can see the other people and have a good idea if you’re going to be successful or not. This is not the case in the digital world, there’s probably a queue, but you’ve no idea how long it is or whether you’re actually in it.
When concert tickets are released you may think you’re organised but so are thousands of other people doing exactly the same thing. Your success depends on many things, including how fast and capable the web server is that’s going to be fulfilling these requests. If it’s an under powered piece of junk then it’s going to fall over and generally be a total disaster.
But it get’s worse, you think you’re organised with your comfy chair and credit card at the ready, well you’re not and unfortunately you’re not even close. There are others, who takes this stuff very seriously and they’re also intent in buying a lot more tickets than you want too. You can call them entrepreneurs, opportunists or perhaps more commonly – ‘ticket scalpers’. People or organisations who simply buy up as many tickets as possible then sell them on to people like us at inflated prices.
They have several things you probably don’t have. Firstly they use automated software called Ticket Bots to ensure that they’re in the queue before you’ve even pressed a mouse button. Then they have a selection of servers, Ip addresses and forms of payment in order to make lots and lots of purchases. All of this is likely to happen while you’re still staring at the selection screen and wondering if your browser has frozen.
The key to heir success i using multiple identities and at the heart of this is using proxies which rotate through IP addresses. This enables the software to act at lightening speed, with the IP address being switched with every new application that is submitted. Each one purchasing the maximum allocation for a single customer, there are literally thousands of tickets being purchased in the seconds after release.
Of course the ticket companies are not very impressed with this especially as most of these tickets turn up at several times the cover price on the web a short time after. They do take preventative action but for every one they do it is normally countered by the ticket scalpers who of course have large profits to protect. At best they make it more difficult and of course the more expensive they can make the process, the less lucrative it comes and the more tickets are left for real fans.
Unfortunately they don’t look like winning unless there’s some serious supporting legislation. People have figured out that they can buy specialized address pools from companies who create and sell the best proxies for Ticketmaster applications. All that’s needed is to rent a few of these for a few weeks and they can clear up with some serious purchases.
So what’s the solution? Well hopefully legislation will put some stop to this behavior but that could take years depending on where you live. Many fans have simply embraced the concert and become ticket scalpers themselves.