By Rachael Rees
As the Aug. 26 Dave Matthews Band concert creeps closer, thieves and counterfeiters are preying on fans who could not get tickets online in the 90 seconds before they sold out.
Marney Smith, director of the Les Schwab Amphitheater, said she’s seen more fake tickets and tickets being sold above face value for the Dave Matthews concert than any show in the history of the amphitheater, which opened in 2002.
“You can buy a VIP ticket that doesn’t exist or a meet-and-greet ticket for hundreds of dollars, and they’re fake tickets,” she said. “There certainly are people selling legitimate tickets, but it is considered scalping if they’re sold above the base ticket price, which is $75. And there’s no way to guarantee that the ticket you are buying from a third party is valid until you get to the gate.”
Oregon has no law against selling tickets above their retail price, said Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn. In 2013, Parrish sponsored a bill, which died at the end of the session, to prevent unauthorized ticket resellers from selling to Oregonians. She intends to bring the bill back in 2015.
“You can’t just sell air, which is what these guys are doing right now,” she said. “I think, as a general rule, that the free market should do what it’s going to do. But there are times we have to step in and say ‘enough is enough’ to protect consumers.”
Smith said 8,000 tickets were originally available for Dave Matthews at the amphitheater. Half went to the official Dave Matthews Band fan group; 700 were sold at the Ticket Mill in the Old Mill District and the remainder sold via Ticketfly.
The majority of people purchased their tickets online, at which point they chose to either have tickets sent to them via email or snail mail, Smith said. The email tickets are digital, and nothing prevents someone from copying and selling multiple versions of the same ticket.
But the first version of that ticket to get scanned will be the only one valid at the gate, she said. Smith also warned all tickets are general admission.
“Unless we have a sellout concert, it’s not a huge problem,” she said. “But with the sold-out shows, we notice significantly more scalping activity.”
Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, which operates Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Keller Auditorium and three other Portland venues, does not use e-tickets, said Stephanie Soden, communications manager. She said tickets are either picked up at will call or mailed directly to the purchaser.
“E-tickets do open up opportunities for scalping,” she said. “We were active in supporting Representative Parrish’s bill and are always looking for ways that reduce the opportunity for scalping or illegitimate sales. We think consumers should be able to pay the actual ticket price. Tickets are set at a fair price by the promoter and the artist.”