With Ticketmaster, Security That’s Lost In Translation

February 3, 2014

ticketmaster2I buy a lot of concert tickets. And I’ve honed my skills when it comes to securing top-notch seats for shows using Craigslist.

But scouring Craigslist for a good deal can be time consuming — and there’s always a chance of getting attacked outside a halfway house trying to score a pair of Foo Fighters tickets.

So, even though I do my best to avoid it, I frequently find myself on the Ticketmaster website. Sometimes I just suck it up and pay Ticketmaster’s outlandish convenience fees. Of course, that would be a lot easier to stomach if the user experience was in any way convenient.

That’s why I was pleased when I heard Ticketmaster would be shifting away from CAPTCHA, the security system the company used for years to thwart scalpers from buying up all the tickets. The CAPTCHA system is meant to decipher humans from robots by requiring people to enter a security code before searching for tickets.

The trouble, however, stemmed from the fact that it was nearly impossible to decipher the jumbled mess of letters you were presented — particularly frustrating when time is of the essence as you try to get into the queue.

I was pleasantly surprised with the switch they made. The new security system subjected you to some advertising and the need to enter security words like “Turbo Tax” — a clever little revenue generator for Ticketmaster. Other times, you had to answer a simple multiple choice question. Either way, it was legible. How convenient.

All that changed when I logged on this weekend.

Screen Shot

Hmmm. Try again.

Another problem — once you get in, you can’t trust that the seats you’re presented are actually the “Best Available.” Tickets are constantly being released back into the pool and each search can yield wildly different results.

But the more searches you try, the more security codes you must solve. Here’s what I encountered.

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How many of these can you get on the first try, Peepshow readers?

Perhaps more convenience charges are necessary because things have taken a turn for the worse. Congrats, Ticketmaster. You’ve defeated the robots… and me.

Please let me know when things are fixed. Until then, I’ll be heading back to Craigslist.