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I spent $640 and traveled hours to see a popular artist in concert. I thought my tickets were legit until the venue scanned them.

Mary Helene Hall   

I spent $640 and traveled hours to see a popular artist in concert. I thought my tickets were legit until the venue scanned them.
  • I bought tickets to see Chappell Roan on resale site SeatGeek and spent over $600 to go see her.
  • At the door, we learned our tickets were useless and would not get us into the show.

When I first heard Chappell Roan's "Pink Pony Club," I knew that she was bringing something special to the pop scene.

That's why, when I learned she'd be visiting my best friend's city for her Midwest Princess tour, I booked my flight to Madison, Wisconsin.

In May, I purchased tickets to see her at The Sylvee from the resale website SeatGeek. Shortly after, SeatGeek sent me an email explaining that, due to a "security policy at The Sylvee," my tickets would be delivered outside of the SeatGeek app. I'd get an email with a link to accept my ticket.

I received an email from a separate address that said my tickets had been shared with me. I clicked a link to accept my tickets, and I assumed I was set.

After all, the blue tickets were added to my digital wallet and had a moving line in front of the barcode, like many tickets I've had do. They looked perfectly normal and even had info about the show and "Screenshots won't get you in the door" printed along the bottom.

After spending about $640 on airfare on travel from Alabama, concert tickets, an outfit for the show, Uber rides, and more, I was told at the door that we'd been duped.

But what resulted from that was an unexpected night that I will probably never forget.

We found out at the gate that our tickets would not get us into the show

When we arrived at The Sylvee and made our way to the end of a line that wrapped around the block, we could feel the excitement in the air.

My friend and I noted it was weird to see so many people dressed up in mermaid garb — the theme of this Chappell Roan show — who were holding signs asking to buy tickets. Why would so many people show up ready to go to a show if they couldn't get in?

Still, I walked through security, held out my digital ticket, and watched the ticket scanner flash red. The attendant told us to head to the box office, where we were told we were victims of a massive ticket scam. The tickets we'd been transferred from a third party were unscannable and useless.

We joined the group of about 80 people outside the venue who had also just realized they weren't getting to see one of the hottest concerts of the summer.

Our group of disappointed fans decided to turn the night around

Outside the venue, our group of upset people with worthless tickets decided to find something else to do together. After all, we'd gotten dressed up.

Before I knew it, we were in a caravan of around 30 mermaids making our way to the nearest bar. Someone got the bartender to play Chappell Roan's discography and ordered us all a round of shots.

What ensued was a night of singing and dancing to our "favorite artist's favorite artist," cursing third-party ticket vendors, and making new friends. As others learned their tickets were useless that night, they found out about our impromptu party and joined us.

Without this experience, I would've probably had a miserable night.

I got my money back, but I'm still disappointed

Everyone thinks they're smart enough not to get duped until they are — including me. I was mortified, but the sheer number of people I met who had also bought tickets that wouldn't work helped me realize there wasn't much we could've done to avoid this.

We bought tickets from what I consider to be a more reputable resale platform, not some random person on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

In my case, SeatGeek has a Buyer Guarantee, so I was quickly issued a full refund. But that doesn't change the fact that I missed out on something that I paid to travel over 1,000 miles to experience.

It's just another part of the conversation about how flawed ticketing for live events has become.

Last year, Taylor Swift fans who got nonexistent tickets to The Eras Tour faced issues similar to mine but struggled to get refunds. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation Entertainment (the parent company of Ticketmaster), accusing it of unlawfully dominating the market.

SeatGeek has not explained to me what went wrong, and I don't think I'll ever know for sure.

Looking back, it was odd that someone could just send me a link, and I'd get their tickets. Maybe the original tickets were real but the seller never fully transferred them to me at all. Or maybe they were really good fakes all along.

But what I've taken away from this experience is that it's easy to get unscannable tickets that look legitimate — and it's crucial to make sure you obtain possession of the original event tickets if they were initially sold through Ticketmaster.

Personally, though, I won't be buying tickets for a concert across the country again unless I can absolutely guarantee I will get in the door.

A representative for SeatGeek issued the following statement to Business Insider: "We're really sorry that this fan wasn't able to attend the show and understand the disappointment and frustration this whole experience must have caused. Upon investigation, a seller informed us that this was potentially due to a recently reported Ticketmaster hack, resulting in several of their tickets being stolen and the seller not being able to reissue barcodes as a result, which we are continuing to investigate. While these instances are rare, all fans buying their tickets on SeatGeek are protected by our Buyer Guarantee."

A representative for Ticketmaster issued the following statement to Business Insider: "The original ticket buyers violated terms set forth by the artist – either by buying more tickets than allowed and/or using automation – and as a result the tickets were immediately canceled, and the original buyer was notified. Unfortunately, SeatGeek's policies prioritize the profits of scalpers over protecting fans from being scammed by fraudulent tickets."

Representatives for The Sylvee didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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