How Ticketfly put a fake test event onsale for a popular band in a tiny venue & caused sheer panic
The text above arrived yesterday afternoon. You see my reaction; the Living Room holds about 100 people (130 is exact capacity). (In his defense, the SO said later he forgot how small the place was or he just would have bought them.) He found out about the gig by getting an email alert from Pollstar, which had a link to buy tickets on TicketFly. That link also quickly made its way to the various TGA fan forums.
I couldn’t find the date on the Living Room web site or by searching ‘Gaslight Anthem’ on TicketFly, but Gaslight Anthem are having a lot of issues with scalpers now, and did put their LA show at the Roxy on sale randomly in the middle of the afternoon and just posted about it to their Facebook page as a way of trying to tell fans and not the whole world. So it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that this is something that they would do, give the fans a head start for paying attention.
I was in a meeting when all of this went down and as soon as I got out, started emailing friends who might not have heard. I then tried TicketFly again and miraculously could still buy tickets. I just assumed that - despite the info being on the TGA message board and their Facebook group - people couldn’t get to the show or hadn’t heard about it and it was going to sell out any minute now. I bought a pair of tickets anyway, in case people got shut out.
A few minutes later - now 15 minutes since the first notice - I heard from the friends, both of whom were able to buy tickets. This was odd, but I still thought - well, maybe people just don’t know.
At the same time, other people in the various forums noticed that there were some questionable event listings in the right rail on the TicketFly site, one for a Fugazi show and another for a Bob Dylan show where the ticket prices were $1 and $2. Both of those, however, had “TicketFly Test Venue” as the venue and one wasn’t not actually on sale.
This was how I was still rationalizing the unicorn.
Someone on one of the boards made a phone call to the Living Room; they were told that the person who answered the phone didn’t know if there was a show, but to call back in half an hour.
In the meantime, I pulled 9 tickets, and realized that this was definitely not real. The SO argued (via email) that “People answering the phone at clubs in the middle of the afternoon are not good sources.” I told him not to be crabby at me.
Someone called the Living Room back and was told that no such show was happening. I got on the phone to TicketFly, and was told that it was an error that was up “very briefly” and when I pointed out that it had been up for over an hour, was told that “everyone would be getting a refund.” The attitude from TicketFly customer service was annoyed and not apologetic, which was not the right approach in my opinion, but as usual, concert goers are always treated like second class citizens.
(You put an event on sale? We bought the tickets to the event. Don’t act like this was all our fault.)
At that point, the Gaslight Anthem Twitter account posted that there was no show at the Living Room.
15 minutes later, people started getting refund emails from TicketFly, and it was all over.
I’m guessing that someone TicketFly created a test event, but instead of putting it at the test venue, picked the Living Room, and in the entire process forgot or didn’t know that there was a connection to Pollstar or that Pollstar spidered their entire site every time there was a new entry.
My only consolation in all of this is that TicketFly had to eat the cost of their fuckup. Ticketmaster would’ve found a way to keep the “convenience fee” or the “processing fee” or some other such nonsense.