The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo has cancelled several thousand tickets to this month's rodeo, including 800 to the March 17 George Strait concert that were going as high as $8,100, after they allegedly fell into the hands of ticket brokers. According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the rodeo identified nine season-ticket holders acting as brokers after the electronic sale of some 5,600 tickets across the 21-day event set off internal alarms within its ticketing system.
Naturally, those going for Strait, whose show sold out almost instantly, raised more eyebrows than most. All orders have been canceled, said rodeo Chief Operating Officer Leroy Shafer, adding that buyers would be allowed to appeal: "We wait a few days to make sure we're not canceling a legitimate order." Those nine season-ticket holders or first-time buyers were denied their seats this year after being identified as brokers, he added.
Rocks Off reached out to Shafer via email for an explanation of why the brokers' actions, though not technically illegal, violated rodeo policy.
"It has been the policy of HLSR that we do not knowingly sell tickets to brokers or any type of ticket resellers who charge more that a service fee, such as Ticketmaster," he said.
"Though our screening methodology, we were able to identify them as brokers or they had wired around our procedures to purchase more than the allowed limit per person/entity," added Shafer.
Despite the Chronicle headline ("Rodeo reclaims 800 Strait tickets from brokers"), Shafer explained that the tickets were never "reclaimed." In fact, the orders were never even processed, printed or shipped, he said. However, he added that the rodeo follows a very strict procedure when it does find out that tickets have been shipped to a broker.
"HLSR does invalidate some issued tickets when it is determined they were shipped to a broker before the broker was identified by HLSR," Shafer said. "In such cases the barcodes are invalidated and the purchaser (the original purchaser) is notified of the action. In such cases, HLSR refunds the purchase price to the original purchaser."
Shafer said the cancelled tickets for all the performances except Strait will be filtered back into the system in the next few days. For Strait, he added, those seats will go to people on the rodeo's email list who had contacted them within the first three days of the show's selling out, as well as a few committee volunteers who were unable to originally purchase seats during the designated pre-sale.
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The lesson here: Do not try to put one over on the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.