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Scalper warning

A screengrab of Logjam's scalper warning.

Tickets for Robert Plant’s first visit to Montana weren’t on sale until Thursday morning, through the Logjam Presents presale.

How, then, were tickets available Tuesday and Wednesday through ticket resale sites?

It’s all part of the high-tech way that scalpers conduct their business in 2019, though selling tickets they don’t even have yet is a new wrinkle.

“They’re getting more sophisticated in — you hate to say it — tricking the customer,” Logjam owner Nick Checota said Thursday. “They’re pretty shady operations … they’re not legit, they don’t have tickets.”

Some websites copy venue names, using variations on KettleHouse and Bonner Amphitheater to make up their urls. They then upcharge tickets, at double or triple face value.

One such website is charging anywhere from $100-$400 for Robert Plant tickets at the amphitheater, where Logjam’s website lists them for $64.50-74.50. Checota said he’d heard of prices in the $500 range earlier in the week.

The Better Business Bureau page for one such site, Online City Tickets, is filled with more than 300 customer complaints over the last three years, with 100 in the last 12 months.

According to the Bureau, the resale site “did not disclose exorbitant fees during ticket ordering process. Also, consumers claim the company used third party websites to forward them to purchase from Online City Tickets. Consumers also claim they received incorrect tickets, including tickets with wrong dates, names, seats and wrong amount of tickets.”

Sites like this one prompted Logjam to release a scalper warning Wednesday, reminding ticket buyers that Logjam’s website and its official affiliate, eTix, were the best ways to get real tickets at the correct prices.

“We’re definitely working hard to get on top of this,” Checota said. “We’re trying to get a little more aggressive with it.”

For the Robert Plant show, that meant putting around three-quarters of the available tickets into the presale and limiting buyers to four tickets apiece. That won’t completely stop scalpers, Checota said, but it should seriously limit them.

Logjam has experimented with different techniques to get as many tickets as possible into actual concertgoers’ hands, such as Verified Fan presale (the Mumford and Sons show) or a 24-hour-before-the-concert e-ticket system. But Checota is aware some techniques are better for different demographics, and felt putting the majority of tickets into the presale would work best for Plant.

“It’s higher than we’ve historically done,” he said, noting they’d already sold around 3,000 tickets Thursday morning and guessed the presale would be sold out by midday Thursday. Additional tickets will go on sale to the public starting May 10 at 10 a.m.

Checota has noticed these “shady” websites are particularly active with concerts that appeal to an older demographic, who may not be as savvy buying tickets on the internet.

That’s where education is key: Know the face value of tickets, and you’re far less likely to overpay, whether the website is legit or not.

“They really like these throwback shows,” Checota said.

However, these sites aren’t only focused on certain shows — one website has every Logjam concert listed, including Top Hat shows. Those are all general admission, meaning every ticket is the same price.

But they list some Top Hat concerts, like Real Estate on May 30, with several ticket prices, from $43-$195. Tickets from Logjam are $25 apiece (and are still available).

“In the end, we still sell the tickets,” Checota said. “But what it does do, it affects our customers who aren’t as familiar with the online purchasing,” and that can result in complaints directed toward Logjam.

“Knowing who the actual seller is, is key.”

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Arts and entertainment

arts reporter for the Missoulian.