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Vernon  

Those damn ticket bots!

Ashley Pritchard and her long-time partner haven't had a date night in years.

The Vernon couple has two kids who take up most of their time and money. Like most young families, the extravagance of splurging on entertainment is a rare luxury.

However, when they learned two of their favourite bands were playing in Kelowna, they decided to bite the bullet.  

"We hummed and hawed, but ultimately, we haven't done anything together since having children, so we went for it," says Pritchard.

They inadvertently clicked on a ticket scalper website, thinking it was that of Prospera Place – and that's when things went downhill.

Even though the site included Prospera's name in the title, it is not linked to the Kelowna venue. The tickets were jacked up in price, and the couple was billed in American funds.

"We thought the tickets were $78 apiece, which is double their actual cost ... so, we agreed to $190. But, it was $250 because of the American exchange."

The couple did contact the third-party seller, but was basically told: "too bad."

She said Prospera's official ticket agent, Select Your Tickets, can only verify if a ticket is legitimate or not.

She's angry that third-party ticket bots scoop up large numbers of tickets, a problem that has been a thorn in the side of legitimate sellers.

"That money would've been going to Prospera Place in the form of food sales, drink sales, T-shirt sales." 

Prospera and Select Your Tickets have invested considerable resources and time to combat the issue.

"As of now, B.C. legislation does not have any laws in place to regulate or limit this second-party sale. Other provinces have established a system like limiting the markup, and hopefully B.C. follows suit sooner rather than later to prevent third-party sellers from continuing their business in the same way," a Prospera spokesperson said in an email to Pritchard.

"We are always doing our best to point patrons in the right direction for ticketing needs, and we will continue to work on this as it's not the first and unfortunately not the last time it will happen."

In Ontario, legislation has been adopted banning ticket bots and resales at more than 50 per cent above face value. Ticket sellers will also have to display an itemized list of all fees, taxes and service charges, and resellers would have to disclose the face value of the ticket.

B.C.'s NDP government has promised to crack down on the bots.

"It's important, and it's an issue that directly affects people," said Premier John Horgan. "The fact that sophisticated technologists can get to the front of the queue and pull out big chunks of tickets for important events in peoples lives, I think it's reprehensible."

"It's not just getting tickets to see U2," Horgan added, "but getting a campsite for your family for the summer when you have bots coming in and scooping up some of the best campgrounds in the first minute that reservations open – that's just wrong."

The only official ticket seller for Prospera place is selectyourtickets.com.



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