As millions of Taylor Swift fans descended on Ticketmaster to gain highly coveted admission to her tour only to have their hopes dashed by a barely functional website, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) urged people to direct their ire toward corporate monopolies.
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out her criticism of Ticketmaster ― the primary vendor directly selling tickets to the 52 shows on Swift’s tour ― amid the frenzy Tuesday, writing that a 2010 merger of the company and its competitor Live Nation “should never have been approved” by U.S. authorities.
Her remarks gave frustrated Swift fans something to chew on as it became apparent Ticketmaster wasn’t equipped to manage the demand during Tuesday’s presale event ― even though the company had an exact count of customers who’d applied for and received access to this first round of ticket releases. While fans selected for the presale event knew tickets weren’t guaranteed, many who logged in with the special link and code Ticketmaster provided them were met with error messages, hours-long waits and other roadblocks.
Anti-monopoly activists and critics of Ticketmaster say the company has unfairly come to control the lion’s share of the ticket-selling market, allowing it to operate a subpar website, charge high fees on top of base ticket prices and subject customers to “dynamic pricing” ― an algorithm that adjusts prices with consumer demand to such extremes that the cost of basic concert tickets can escalate to four or five figures.
A coalition of such activist groups, called Break Up Ticketmaster, also seized on the company’s struggles Tuesday to draw in new supporters, directing frustrated Swift fans to a petition asking the Department of Justice to launch an investigation. More than 12,800 people had signed it as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Since Ticketmaster has a monopoly over live events, they’re able to get away with running an awful website, turbocharging fees, and more — because where else are fans going to go?” the American Economic Liberties Project, one of the groups in the coalition, tweeted about people signing the petition.
When asked for comment about the criticisms, a Ticketmaster spokesperson said: “Millions of fans registered for Taylor Swift’s Eras Verified Fan Presale, with demand more than twice the number of tickets available ― then on top of that millions more showed up to try to buy. This caused some delays for fans, which we know is frustrating and we worked as quickly as possible to adjust some on-sale times to manage the volume, and queues are now flowing.”
The event has been “the biggest on-sale in history,” the spokesperson added.
Swift fans who couldn’t get tickets during Tuesday’s presale event will get another chance Wednesday if they have a Capital One card and another opportunity after that when the general sale kicks off. Otherwise, they can try their chances on StubHub, where many ticket resellers are already asking thousands of dollars for basic tickets.