Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan blocks bots but frustrates fans of Harry Potter and Bruce Springsteen

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The producers of the long-awaited Broadway show “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” delayed putting tickets on sale by a week, but it had nothing to do with the show’s production process.

The delay arose from the fact that producers are attempting to prevent scalpers and automated ticket bots from buying up tickets for the play, which are being sold through Ticketmaster, owned by Live Nation LYV, +0.90%

All theatergoers hoping to see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” — a story that takes place 19 years after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” J.K. Rowling’s final installment in her phenomenally successful series — need to register using Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan system.

The show begins previews at the Lyric Theatre in Manhattan on March 16, 2018, with an official opening night of April 22. It is expected to be among the hottest tickets of the Broadway season, having opened to critical and commercial acclaim in London’s West End.

The registration process for Broadway opened on Sunday, with tickets now going on sale on October 18, a week later than originally scheduled. The Ticketmaster Verified Fan registration period runs through October 5 with verified fans receiving access codes to purchase tickets.

Yet when Harry Potter fans went to sign up for codes on the first morning that they were able to, the demand was so great that registration proved difficult for many. The show’s ticketing website crashed and Ticketmaster subsequently apologized:

Fans were quick to vent spleen at Verified Fan:

The Verified Fan system was introduced by Ticketmaster after their entire backend crashed following an estimated 10 million attempts to purchase 400,000 tickets for Adele’s 2016 tour. Rolling Stone recently estimated that scalpers accounted for as much as 30 to 50 percent of tickets to a high-demand show.

Verified Fan has so far been used for 50 in-demand concerts and shows including Taylor Swift, Depeche Mode and Ed Sheeran. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has said the Verified Fan System had an estimated 90 percent success rate blocking tickets from being purchased by bots and Ticketmaster says 2 million fans have signed up to the Verified Fan system.

But being verified doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to purchase tickets. You have to be randomly selected. That’s not the only gripe users have with the service.

When tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming Broadway run at Manhattan’s Walter Kerr Theater went on sale via Verified Fan, some soon fetched up to $7,500 on the secondary ticket market, infuriating ticketless fans of the Boss. Adding insult to injury, Verified Fan access codes were bought by professional resellers for hundreds of dollars.

Furthermore, fans who are successful via Verified Fan are subsequently able to compete with ticketless fans who are trying to buy tickets on the on-sale market, leading those who lost out to think the system is weighted unfairly in favor of some punters.

“Verified Fan should be renamed ‘Very Frustrated Fan’ as far as I’m concerned,” said Michael Tyler, a New York-based lawyer who has frequently used the service. “It seems a gimmick to increase hype and ultimately prices — another form of priority seating.”

“For Bruce Springsteen, I wanted good orchestra seats and was offered the corner of the rear mezzanine for $450, neither on the day I wanted nor for the price I wanted. Surely you can better prove who is a ‘verified fan’ by employing staff at the theater box office as used to be the case.”

He is not alone in expressing frustration with the service:

But Ticketmaster said in a statement: “With over 2 million fan registrations, 50 tours, and an average success rate of 95% in keeping tickets off of secondary markets, Ticketmaster Verified Fan has proven its success as an innovative new tool that helps artists get tickets directly into the hands of fans.”

As with any lottery, people whose numbers came up are very happy with Verified Fan: