Bruce Springsteen launched the Jersey leg of his Wrecking Ball tour to a sold-out crowd at Izod. Fans cheered the Boss and his blue-collar anthems.
"We take care of our own," he band pledged, but many working class fans claim they got mugged on the way to this show -- sucker-punched right in the wallet when they tried to buy concert tickets through Ticketmaster.
Fans say they tried to buy face-value tickets, but the second they went on sale they say Ticketmaster's website froze up and locked them out.
Furious fans said just minutes after Ticketmaster "sold out" they surfed over to StubHub and found tons of Springsteen tickets for sale. But the prices were already up to $7,000 and higher.
Fans also screamed for tickets to see the hot new boy band One Direction, but they howled even louder when Ticketmaster declared the show suddenly sold out. Seconds later, the tickets popped up on StubHub. Prices? Obscene.
Ticketmaster claims it gets shanghaied by scalpers using a swarm of exotic computer programs called "bots." Computers can complete high-speed transactions in fractions of a second -- out-competing us mere humans and monopolizing ticket sales.
Ticketmaster's Jacqueline Peterson says the legitimate ticketing industry has been waging cyberwars against the bots for years, but angry fans don't see much improvement.
"We're talking seriously angry people, and it angers Ticketmaster as well," she said. "We work hard every day on this issue -- on the tech front, we invested millions fighting scalpers using bots…we thwart thousands of attempts every on-sale we have."
Ticketmaster says it limits the number of tickets per sale, invalidates suspiciously
large orders, and tries using security programs like Recaptcha to foil the bots, but they keep on coming. Now, Ticketmaster is promoting paperless tickets -- e-tickets, basically, that require fans to produce a credit card and ID at the door.
John Lucich is an expert in computer forensics. He says Ticketmaster's just not that motivated.
"If Ticketmaster was being defrauded - financially losing money in this -- they would have addressed it right away," Lucich said. "In my opinion, companies like Ticketmaster will start taking action -- if and when they start losing customers."
"That argument is flawed in many ways," Ticketmaster's Peterson said. "We're working very hard because we want to have lifelong fans."
New Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell says that's not enough. He's proposed legislation that would impose serious restrictions on the ticketing industry.
For the record, major ticket re-sellers -- like StubHub -- also want to see bots outlawed. But StubHub -- an eBay subsidiary -- actively opposes paperless e tickets on a website called Fan Freedom Project.
Don't despair... concert fan! Try these ticket-buying tips:
FIRST-- try to score tickets during a pre-sale. That gives you first crack – before the general public.
ALSO -- Many artists release a limited number of tickets for pre-sale to fan-club members. Join the fan club!
AND some credit card companies -- like American Express -- offer pre-sales and special packages. Check THAT out.
NEXT -- TWEAK your computer. Sync its clock to ATOMIC TIME in your time zone -- because if you jump in even 30 seconds late -- you lose. ENHANCE your machine's speed -- close extra windows, shut down unneeded programs, plug it in for maximum power -- and don't let it overheat. You can use multiple machines -- manned by friends and family -- but do NOT open multiple browsers on the SAME computer. If you DO -- Ticketmaster will zap you with an error message -- and dump you out of the game.
STILL GET SKUNKED? Play the waiting game. Watch for Ticket Drops -- that's when venues suddenly release good tickets. Check Ticketmaster REGULARLY ... often, major drops occur just a couple days before a show. And check the fanclub sites -- like Backstreets Ticket Exchange for Springsteen. They can give you a heads-up. When all else fails -- show up on concert day -- close to the will-call and floor-level entrance. Artists like Bruce can do a last-minute ticket drop -- and you'll find yourself inside and upclose -- paying a face-value price.