BANGOR, Maine — It took a few weeks, but scalping appears to have made its way to Bangor.
A few people in Bangor and central Maine paid much more for tickets to coming Hollywood Slots Waterfront Concert Series shows over the last two weeks than they should have.
“Apparently there’s at least one place out there, and a couple people we talked to mentioned a place in Waterville that is telling people some of the shows are sold out, when they’re not, and charging two or three times the face value,” said Old Town native Alex Gray, the Waterfront Concert Series promoter.
One third-party venue going by two names — All Tickets Direct and Event Tickets Express — and separate websites but the same phone number was cited by one woman who sent Waterfront production manager Robbie Snow an e-mail to inquire about upgrading her tickets.
The woman wanted to upgrade because she bought two lawn — or standing room only — tickets for $222.50 — when they should have cost no more than approximately $100 — from the third-party dealer for Saturday night’s Tim McGraw concert in Bangor.
“We’ve gotten about eight to 10 e-mails or calls the last 10 days,” Snow said. “It’s kind of really picked up the last week or two. I saw one posting on the Internet referring to the Bangor Daily News saying Tim McGraw was sold out, and you had to get tickets at a certain site, which obviously is not true.”
The Bangor woman wanted to upgrade in order to sit in a seat after finding out she isn’t allowed to bring lawn chairs inside the waterfront venue.
“They’re a $45 face value apiece, so they should have been $90,” said Snow. “It’s really too bad because she could have gotten higher-end seats much closer to the stage for the same price she paid for the lawn seats.
“It’s almost sickening that people are misled and charged such a ridiculous price. We’ve been accused of scalping our own tickets, and I think that stems from this.”
Snow has been able to upgrade the tickets of those who have bought scalped tickets at no extra cost, but won’t be able to do that for everyone.
Gray and Snow said as far as they know, the tickets are legitimate and not counterfeits.
“We haven’t found any so far, but counterfeiting and scalping are an ongoing issue nationwide, so we’re on the lookout for them,” Gray said.
All Tickets Direct.com’s website lists current prices as follows: $55 (section 3, rows J and N), $92 (section 1, row C), $97 (section 1, row B), and $106 (section 1, row A). When ordering a pair of $55 tickets, the total came to $152.50 after a service charge and delivery fee were added to the order. A call placed on the order line was never answered by a person, even after a 30-minute wait on hold.
Bangor Deputy Chief of Police Peter Arno said he was recently made aware of the problem and the complaints, but that there is very little his officers can do about it under current law.
“This is a little new to us. I cannot find any regulation in state law or city ordinances relating to scalping tickets or regulating the sale of legit tickets,” Arno said. “Some communities not in Maine state you cannot sell them for more than three times the face value. As for fraudulent tickets, people can be charged with theft by de-ception for selling them.”
Arno said even if agencies are lying and telling consumers shows are sold out, there isn’t much recourse legally.
“We wouldn’t have jurisdiction, if this is going on in Waterville or anyplace outside Bangor,” he added.
So Arno and Gray are urging consumers to buy their tickets at only official venues: locally at Mark’s Music on Penobscot Square in Brewer, online at www.waterfrontconcerts.com, by phone at 783-2009, or through the Androscoggin Bank Le Colisee box office in Lewiston.
Snow is also putting a notice on the waterfrontconcerts.com site alerting consumers to possible scalping or overcharging practices done by nonauthorized dealers.
Arno also suggests enacting local legislation.
“Successes sometimes create other problems, and I guess this is an example,” said Bangor City Council Chairman Richard Stone. “This is the first I’ve heard of it, but we have an obligation to look into it.”
Bangor City Councilor Cary Weston, although sympathetic to the plight of those who are being taken advantage of, questions governmental remedies.
“This certainly educates us on buyer beware,” Weston said. “I don’t think you can regulate personal responsibility or common sense, and I’m not sure if passing an ordinance would alleviate the problem either, especially if it’s being done out of town.”
The Waterfront venue can accommodate as many as 18,000 to 20,000 fans, depending on the configuration of the seating. To date, more than 8,000 tickets had been sold for McGraw; 10,000 for the Sept. 10 Alan Jackson concert; 4,000 for Jason Mraz on Sept. 11; 4,000 for Miranda Lambert Oct. 2; and 5,700 for Godsmack Oct. 10.