A recent Bruce Springsteen concert in San Jose was packed. Some concertgoers got there early to get the best seats possible with their general admission tickets. Others already had assigned seating. And then there were fans waiting in line with no ticket in hand because they had purchased a paperless ticket.
"A fan goes to Ticketmaster.com and the credit card they used to purchase the ticket becomes their way to enter the arena or venue," explained Ticketmaster Public Relations Director Jacqueline Peterson. She says artists and sports teams like paperless tickets, sometimes called "will-call only," because it helps reduce scalping "by allowing them to sell tickets directly to their fans at the price that they set without the interference of scalpers."
Ticketmaster offers paperless tickets as an option. Peterson says the paperless ticket idea was collaboration between the company, their artists, and sports teams. But, Consumer Action's Joe Ridout believes consumer's rights are being violated because the buyer must be present at the ticket entrance to re-sell or transfer paperless tickets because the purchaser's credit card and ID are required to enter the venue. "Ticketmaster's using new technology to essentially strip customers of rights they've been accustomed to have for many years when it comes to buying and selling tickets," he says.
Ridout says tickets should be like anything else you else you buy. "Once you buy a ticket, we feel that consumers should own that ticket and be able to do whatever they please with it whether it be give it away to a friend, to sell it, or trade it for something else," he says.
Laurie from Danville has a friend whose plans changed and she wasn't able to hand off tickets to her friends. "She couldn't get rid of the tickets and now there's going to be two tickets in there that are prime seats that she had to relinquish and pay for, and that's not right," she says.
However, there are concertgoers in favor of paperless tickets. "I think anything that allows fans to have a chance at buying their own tickets and not have to go through scalpers and professional resellers, coming by will-call is a small price to pay for it. I'm in favor of it," Dan Lewis says. Lee Spector flew down from Portland to see the show. "It meets the goals that Bruce has to cut the brokers out of the tickets, but it also makes it tougher to get seats and to sell tickets if you have extras," he says.
New York has a law that requires ticket sellers to offer both transferable and non-transferable tickets. Minnesota, New Jersey, and Massachusetts all have similar laws pending. There's nothing currently in California. Bruce Springsteen's production company did not return 7 On Your Side's call for a comment.