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Inside the world of ticket brokers

9:06 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA (WXIA) -- Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, One Direction. These are some of the hottest acts going right now, but try to get a ticket.

Getting to one of these concerts can cost a fortune because many times you have to pay double or triple the price.

The big names sell out quickly because a lot of the tickets are already taken and are being sold online by ticket brokers who drive up the price.

"I'm thinking, 'who can pay $888 apiece to take your 10 year old to see Justin Bieber'?" Courtney Weeks said, relaying her eye opening experience of shopping for tickets online.

She said she wanted to surprise her 10 year old daughter, Anslee, with an early Christmas present, so she shopped online to find tickets for the December 'Jingle Ball' concert in Atlanta, because Justin Bieber would be there.

Weeks is a single mom and a full-time student and money was tight. She'd heard that ticket broker StubHub had good deals but it didn't turn out that way for her.

"We were literally against the wall at the Philips Arena," she said.

She had purchased tickets with a face value of $35 but ended up having to pay $89 apiece for seats in the highest section of Philips Arena.

"She was scared," Weeks said.

Weeks was mad too because when they got to the concert, the box office was selling tickets for the same section at $35 and there were plenty of better seats available as well.

In the case of the 'Jingle Ball' concert we learned, from a local ticket broker, that it didn't sell too well.  She probably should have tried the venue first. However, often times, acts like Bieber sell out so quickly that consumers tend to shop ticket broker websites to guarantee a good seat.

For example, Beiber's January concert in Atlanta sold out in less than hour. Yet you could find all kinds of tickets on the secondary market. Often times even before the tickets officially go on sale to the public.

"Certain seats that we hold, let's say a Hawks ticket at Philips, that we're a season ticket holder for a club seat, those seats are offered to us for concerts at Philips," said Atlanta ticker broker Marsha Spector, owner of Front Row Seats LLC.

Ticket brokers are banking on supply and demand. Many times that demand is high.  Gary Bongiovanni, of concert website Pollstar, gave 11Alive News the inside story. We learned that there are all kinds of hold backs.

A certain number of tickets go to the artist, to the fan clubs, concert promoters, radio sponsors, and premium credit card members before any are released for sale to the public.

"In today's world no show is every really sold out," Bongiovanni said.

"There are all these deals that are made for concerts and sometimes they hold back tickets, and this is just my opinion, to boost the demand," Spector said.

When tickets do go on sale you're also competing against ticket brokers who try to buy more.

"If a broker is paying their staff to be online at exactly the time the tickets go on sale, we have invested money in purchasing those tickets," Spector told us, saying they don't have the inside track any more than a consumer, when it comes to buying from Ticketmaster.

Best advice, if you want to make sure you get a ticket at face value you've got be ready to go online the moment the concert goes on sale.

However, if you want to gamble and wait until the last minute you can also find deals from ticket brokers who may try to unload extra tickets that didn't sell.  Spector says there have sporting events and concerts where they have sold tickets below face value.

If you are using a ticket broker they can be helpful in securing goods seats, although that comes with a cost. Brokers who belong to the National Association of Ticket Brokers also offer some guarantees in their code of ethics. For example, if a ticket is guaranteed and not delivered, they will refund twice the face value.

Ticket brokers also come in handy if you are unable to attend a concert. The exchanges can be helpful in providing a secure place for you to sell your unused ticket.

When asked if ticket brokers are going away, Front Row Seats LLC manager, Ariel Booker, responded quickly.

"No, ticket brokers are definitely not going away. You know we have these major exchanges, such as StubHub and Ticketsnow. You know it's a multibillion dollar business and they're not going anywhere," she said.

Ross McLaughlin, WXIA

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