Over the past month, Coldplay have gone to some rather extreme — though commendable — lengths to keep tickets for their Twisted Logic Tour out of the hands of scalpers and off the pages of online auction sites, including organizing fan-only lotteries (basically a chance at a chance to bid on special presale tix) and sifting through ticket applications by hand.
But their latest ticketing tactic — designed to prevent fans from being "ripped off" — might fall short of its intended goal.
On Saturday, the band launched a special online auction through Ticketmaster.com, which gives fans the chance to bid on pairs of tickets to the first leg of shows on the band's upcoming North American tour (see "Coldplay (And Their Fans) Unveil Dates For Next Tour Leg"). By Monday, the minimum bid on tickets for several shows was already as high as $400, and no bid was lower than $80 for a pair of tickets.
The face value for tickets usually runs from $37.50 - $75.
But in a statement posted on Coldplay.com, the band defended the auction as a necessary step in defending fans from scalpers and ticket counterfeiting. On Monday, a Coldplay spokesperson noted that only prime seats are being auctioned, and that all of the band's profits from the auctions will be donated to charity.
"Whenever we put our tickets up for sale, an enormous amount of them end up being sold on sites like eBay [or on] scalper sites," the statement continued. "A lot of these auction sites are selling counterfeit tickets, and in some cases fans are just plain ripping fans off. We have honestly tried to make as many tickets as possible accessible for everyone, and we will keep trying to do this."
Ticketmaster echoed the sentiments of Coldplay, saying that an online auction is yet another way to prevent scalpers from gouging fans or selling counterfeit tickets. And, it places the purchasing power directly in the hands of the fans (or, as they're called, "the consumer.")
"Ticketmaster auctions enable the consumer to determine the market value of a ticket [and/or] ticket location. By enabling our clients to offer their fans and patrons the opportunity to purchase guaranteed-valid tickets, often in premier seating locations, Ticketmaster helps its clients combat scalping," a spokesperson for Ticketmaster wrote in an e-mail to MTV News. "Further ... ONLY Ticketmaster (and the venue box office) can guarantee the validity of the event's tickets. If you've ever witnessed a fan getting turned away from seeing his or her favorite band because the tickets they bought in the secondary market ended up being invalid, you'd realize that those often-empty promises by unauthorized resellers don't mean much when a fan ends up missing the big show they wanted so badly to see."
Two more auctions, for the remaining dates on the tour, are scheduled to begin Monday (November 28) and then Saturday.
Of course, many angry Coldplay fans see the auctions as less of a benefit and more of a boon, making tickets available to only those fans with spare cash to throw around.
"While it's nice that the money is going to a good cause and not the scalpers, it is also limiting the good seats to the rich fans and leaving those less fortunate up in the nosebleeds," one fan wrote on Coldplay's messageboard. "I'd rather they just put all the tickets on sale and give everyone a chance (no matter how small) to be up close."